Systemic Safety Improvements

To help reach Vision Zero, Arlington County has adopted a "systemic" or "safe systems" safety approach. A Safe System Approach focuses on mitigating risks inherent in the transportation system to both prevent crashes from happening and also minimize injury when crashes do occur. The Safe System Approach identifies roadway characteristics that contributed to crashes; then we make changes to infrastructure that has those characteristics throughout the County, not just where crashes have already occurred. It is a way to address risk factors on a holistic, system-wide level.

Below are some examples of systemic safety improvements or initiatives that the County has launched under the Vision Zero program:

Stop for Pedestrians Sign/Marking Change Out

  • Description: In September 2023, the County Board adopted an ordinance to adjust the County Code to reflect Virginia State Code section 46.2-924 (updated in March 2023) requiring “drivers to stop for pedestrians.” Previous code stated that drivers must yield to pedestrians. All signage and markings will be updated to reflect the new code language requiring vehicles to stop for people crossing in the crosswalk.
  • Project: Through spring 2024, the County will begin replacing signage at crosswalks with new “Stop Here For Pedestrians” signs. Stop bars will also be installed, replacing previous yield lines. We have over 170 locations that will be updated throughout the County. Arlington is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on changes to VDOT-owned streets.
  • Learn more about crossing signage and markings here: Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox 
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Alley Inventory

  • Description: An alley is a throughway between buildings or parcels that provides access to the street network. Poor visibility, lack of markings, and degraded surface conditions can all lead to unsafe conditions in alleys.
  • Project: Two critical crashes resulting in serious injuries occurred in 2021 at locations defined as alleys, which prompted a systemic review of alleys countywide. Staff identified alley locations throughout Arlington and reviewed the design and condition of these alleys and their intersection with the roadway network. The goal of this inventory was to review and standardize typical design features for alleys in Arlington and address any existing safety concerns. All locations were evaluated in relation to concerns associated with the incidents which necessitated review, including:
    • Sight distance and visibility at conflict points and access to the street network
    • Clarity and appropriateness of signage and markings
    • Condition of roadway surface material
  • Learn more about alley safety improvements here: View alley inventory info sheet(PDF, 280KB)  & interactive inventory map


Leading Pedestrian Intervals

  • Description: Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) give pedestrians a head start when crossing an intersection, increasing their visibility to drivers and emphasizing a pedestrian’s right to cross the street ahead of vehicular traffic. LPIs give pedestrians a 3- to 7-second head start to cross a street before vehicles traveling are given a green signal to move through or turn at the intersection. Studies show that LPIs can reduce pedestrian crashes by up to 60%. “Right on Red” turns are often restricted with LPIs to further control for conflicts between pedestrians and right-turning vehicles.
  • Project: County staff systemically implemented LPIs, combined with No Right Turn on Red signs, along the following High Injury Network (HIN) corridors in 2023, more than doubling the number of intersections with LPIs in the County, from 31 to 77:
    • Columbia Pike from the County line to Washington Blvd
    • Fairfax Dr from N Glebe Road to N Kirkwood Dr
    • Clarendon Blvd between N Highland St and Ft. Myer Dr / Wilson Blvd
    • Wilson Blvd between N Glebe Rd and Fort Myer Dr

    The County expanded this systemic safety effort to the National Landing area in 2024 with the addition of LPIs and “No Right Turn on Red” signs at 12 intersections—including traffic signals along S Hayes St, S Eads St, 15th St S, and 18th St S.

    Learn more about LPIs and No Right Turn on Red here: Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox

Stop Bars at Stop Signs

  • Description: Stop bars are pavement markings that indicate where a driver should stop at a stop sign.
  • Project: In 2021, County staff inspected all intersections in the county with a stop sign to determine the presence of stop bars. Subsequently, staff provided 1,472 stop bars at intersections without them. The County has implemented a policy to add stop bars with all new stop signs moving forward.
  • Learn more about stop sign improvements here: View the Multimodal Engineering Safety Toolbox


High-Visibility Crosswalk Markings

  • Description: High-visibility crosswalk markings are bold, parallel bars marking a crosswalk in a ladder format, in contrast to the long and narrow white markings that may also be used for crossings.
  • Project: In 2021, County staff assessed all signalized crossings, four-way-stop crossings, and school zone crossings to determine the presence of high-visibility crosswalk markings. Staff then updated 238 crosswalks to include high-visibility markings. From now on, the County will provide high-visibility markings at all such crossings when streets are repaved.
  • Learn more about high-visibility crosswalk markings here: Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox


Uncontrolled Multilane Crossing Improvements

  • Description: Uncontrolled multilane crossings are intersections where roadways have more than one lane in either direction, and there is no stop sign, traffic signal, or other mechanism to stop vehicle traffic to allow pedestrian crossings.
  • Projects:
    • Engineers inspected uncontrolled crossings on multilane streets throughout the county and developed an inventory of these locations. The County added high-visibility crosswalk markings, advanced crossings signage and markings, and pedestrian crossing signs at locations without them.
    • The County also implemented Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at prioritized locations. RRFBs are pedestrian-activated signals that alert drivers to their presence in a crosswalk at a midblock location. They are often paired with a pedestrian refuge island, advance stop or yield signs or markings, and crosswalk visibility enhancements. Pairing an RRFB with these features leads to a greater reduction in pedestrian crashes. Research shows that RRFBs can lead motorists to yield as high as 98% of the time and reduce pedestrian crashes by 47%. County staff are developing a way to systematically assess all potential RRFB locations (based on number of lanes, speeds, volumes, crashes, or other factors) and prioritize locations for implementation.
  • Learn more about RRFBs here: Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox