Vision Zero Tools and Guidelines
Action item B6 of Arlington’s Vision Zero Action Plan outlines the County’s approach to designing streets and trails to be safe for all users. Pursuant to this, the County will update existing design standards and guidelines and create new ones to reflect the fact that safety is our top priority. These guidelines will be kept up-to-date to reflect the latest safety research, standards and best practices from across the country, and to include lessons learned from systemic crash analysis.
The County recognizes the importance of responding swiftly to safety issues, so these guidelines are intended to be flexible and allow staff to exercise some discretion in determining the most effective solutions for each individual situation.
Guidelines in Development
Currently the County is working to develop guidelines for the implementation of Speed Cameras and speed limit changes within School Zones, as well as the first edition of the Multimodal Engineering Safety Toolbox, a communications and engagement tool that explains how DES Transportation staff approach safety issues with common tools and treatments.
Our Vision Zero Action Plan identifies automated speed enforcement, also known as speed cameras, as a tool to lower speeds and enhance equity in enforcement. Further, Arlington’s Police Practices Work Group also recommends speed cameras because they reduce biases in enforcement.
In 2020, Virginia passed legislation allowing state and local police to use speed cameras in school and work zones. Staff across County transportation, police, schools, and members of the Police Practices Group collaborated to develop a proposal to bring speed cameras to Arlington’s school and work zones that meets the state requirements. The County Board will adopted the proposed changes to County Code in January 2022.
Click the links below to learn more about speed cameras, how they are an effective tool to reduce speeds and severe crashes in Arlington, and how we plan to implement speed cameras in Arlington.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are speed cameras allowed in Arlington?
As of 2020, a new Virginia law allows municipalities to install speed cameras in school crossing and work zones. The County Board approves similar changes to the County Code to permit speed cameras in Arlington in January 2022.
How do speed cameras determine who is speeding?
Speed cameras use radar to monitor and ticket vehicles driving over the speed limit. Police officers review the footage to confirm speeding violations. Speeding tickets (civil citations) are issued by mail. Per state law, a driver must be travelling at least 10mph over the speed limit to receive a citation.
What is the fine for a camera-documented speeding ticket? Can I lose my license?
Civil citations of $50 will be issued to the vehicle’s registered owner. No points will be issued to the owner’s license. Speed camera tickets do not have an impact on insurance rates.
I wasn’t driving when my vehicle was documented exceeding the speed limit. Why did I get a ticket?
The police will issue the ticket to the owner of the vehicle. Vehicle owners may request a hearing in Arlington County’s General District Traffic Court to contest the fine.
Is Arlington County going to use speed cameras?
Staff from Department of Environmental Services (DES) and Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) are developing a program to use speed cameras to reduce speeds and speed-related crashes in school and work zones, as permitted by state law.
Why is the County installing speed cameras?
The focus of this program is to reduce speeds and save lives in our community.
The risk of injury and death increases as vehicle speed increases, and we know that at least one in four crashes in Arlington involves speeding. The goal is to reduce the chance of fatal or serious crashes by encouraging drivers to follow the speed limit.
Arlington’s Vision Zero Transportation Safety Action Plan identifies speed cameras as a tool to deter speeding. Arlington’s Police Practices Work Group also recommends speed cameras because they reduce the potential for bias in traffic enforcement.
Why are speed cameras important for safety?
We must slow down to save lives. The CDC estimates that speed cameras can reduce crashes by up to 50%. Plus, studies in Montgomery County, MD, and DC, found that the share of drivers speeding by at least 10mph dropped 70% and 82%, respectively, 6-8 months after speed camera installation. In Rockville, MD, speed cameras reduced crashes by 35% and speeding by 50%.
When will speed cameras be installed on County streets?
We expect to begin implementing an automated speed enforcement program in late 2022 or early 2023.
ACPD staff will initiate a procurement process to select a vendor, while DES Transportation staff will develop data-informed guidelines for placement of speed cameras in school and work zones to maximize their safety impacts.
How will the County select locations for speed cameras?
County staff will develop data-driven guidelines for selecting locations in school zones and work zones:
Selection criteria will include (but are not limited to) crash history, speed data, roadway features, and environmental factors.
How much money will be generated by the speed cameras? Where will the fines go?
Speed camera fines are intended to encourage people to drive the speed limit. Fines do not generate revenue for police or transportation programs. Rather, fines issued will be distributed to the County’s General Fund. Therefore, there is no incentive to use speed cameras to fund department budgets.
How much would the speed camera program cost the County?
We estimate that a program to implement ten speed cameras will cost about $630,000 per year.
Why are speed cameras an equity issue?
Speed cameras have the potential to improve safety and reduce unnecessary interactions between residents and police. Speed cameras may also reduce or eliminate the possibility of race- and ethnicity-based disparities in traffic enforcement.
What community engagement has been incorporated into this program? What engagement is planned?
While developing the Vision Zero Action Plan, the County hosted three public engagement checkpoints that reached over 1,000 community members. The community supported speed management and automated enforcement.
The Police Practices Work Group likewise conducted public engagement through online forms and meetings. Community input was ultimately incorporated into the Group’s set of recommendations to the County Board. These two County initiatives included extensive community engagement and demonstrate support for using speed cameras to make our community safer.
We are planning additional outreach and education to inform the community about speed cameras in advance of their implementation.
Staff recently finalized Arlington's school zone guidelines(PDF, 524KB), which include specifications for setting speed limits in school zones. Per the Vision Zero Action Plan, staff recently updated the County Code to allow for permanent 20mph speed limits on neighborhood streets within 600 feet of a school access point. See below for school slow zone and school zone retrofit updates:
School Slow Zones Update - Winter/Spring 2023
2022 Demonstration School Slow Zones Feedback & Program Update(PDF, 289KB)
2023 Proposed School Slow Zone Maps(PDF, 2MB)
2023 School Slow Zone Flyer(PDF, 437KB)
In Winter/Spring 2022, the County installed school slow zone demonstrations at 13 schools. The demonstrations are 20MPH speed limits (at all times of day) on neighborhood streets within 600ft of a school access point. The demonstrations included retrofitting the entire school zone to ensure high visibility crossings and school zone signage within the school zone, as well as appropriate speed limits on the school’s beaconed arterial roadways.
Staff collected community feedback from April 25 to May 15, 2022, to learn about community experiences and observations during the demonstrations. Community feedback indicated that many people felt safer walking, biking, and driving because of the new school slow zones. Before/after speed data was inconclusive due to data collection errors. New data collection is in progress.
In response to community feedback, Arlington will enhance enforcement, signage, and communications in the school slow zones. DES, APS, and Police will continue to evaluate results and refine the program as the County implements additional school slow zone demonstrations/school zone retrofits in winter and spring 2023, pending Board approval of an amendment to Chapter 14.2 of the County Code to adopt the 20mph school slow zone policy.
Demonstration School Slow Zones - Spring 2022
The Vision Zero Team presented to the County Board in November to request an adjustment to Chapter 14.2 of the County Code to specify permanent 20mph speed limits on 58 street segments within 13 school zones (areas within 600 feet of schools). The County Board approved the proposal and code changes. Therefore, demonstration school slow zones are being installed through early 2022. For more information on the demonstrations:
- Check out the School Slow Zones StoryMap, which provides background information and explains the proposal.
- Look at the slow zone maps for each school demonstration and learn more about our plan and timeline.
- Share the 1-page flyer on the school slow zone demonstration projects.
View the Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox
Ver el Borrador Final (Proximamente)
- Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox(PDF, 17MB) – The full document contains a detailed introduction section and 2-page fact sheets for all 40 tools.
- Executive Summary(PDF, 1MB) – These pages from the full document summarize key information from the introduction and includes a matrix of all 40 tools with graphics, a short description, estimated crash reduction, cost, and implementation timelines.
- Annual Tool Counts(PDF, 257KB) – These documents summarize where certain tools are being used in Arlington. They are updated each year as part of the Vision Zero Annual Report.
Purpose & Background
This Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox was initiated in Arlington’s first five-year Vision Zero Action Plan under Action Item B7: Multimodal Safety Toolbox. The purpose of this Toolbox is to:
- Inform internal and external stakeholders about safety improvement options and their appropriate uses and contexts,
- Highlight available tools for improving safety to a community audience using non-technical and easy-to-understand language,
- Facilitate communication between staff, contractors, developers, and the community specifically relating to transportation safety improvements, and
- Create a shared understanding and realistic expectations around safety treatments.
Format & Content
The first-generation Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox includes 40 tools, organized into five categories: Crossings and Signals, Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities, Transit Facilities, Speed and Traffic Management, and Other Road Design Elements.
For each tool, the Toolbox includes a graphic and written description of the tool’s primary purpose, implementation considerations, the expected reduction in crashes based on research (where available), and planning-level cost estimates and timelines for implementation.
The Toolbox does not replace engineering analysis, feasibility evaluation, and design. It does not include specific design guidance; consult the Reference subsections in the Toolbox and Existing Guidelines section on this page to learn more about the standards and specifications for each tool.
Using the Toolbox
Through the public engagement conducted as part of the development of this resource, we heard a number of great ideas from Arlington Commissions, Committees, APS, and the General Public on how to use the Toolbox, including suggestions to:
- Use frequently to advocate for safety projects and a safer multimodal transportation system
- Use as a resource for advocacy and to contribute to discussions about transportation
- Use to support applications for neighborhood street projects and create a shared understanding during project discussions
- Use during review of site plans for large scale developments and to inform requests for developers to improve the multimodal transportation system
- Use to ensure safer, more comfortable, multimodal access to parks and trails
- Use to promote tools that encourage low-carbon forms of transportation like walking, bicycling, and taking transit
- Use to advocate for tools that make the transportation system safer and more accessible to users of all ages and abilities
Updates & Revisions
The Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox is meant to be a “living document,” and is anticipated to be revisited as part of the annual Vision Zero program meeting. The Toolbox will be updated to include new tools and references as they become available.
Public Engagement on the Toolbox
The draft (English | Espanol) Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox was posted to our website and made available for review in early 2022. The release of the draft document was paired with an online form and a virtual meeting was held to collect feedback (view the presentation slides(PDF, 4MB) | ver diapositivas de presentación(PDF, 4MB)). The questions posed on the online form and at the virtual meeting asked respondents about their understanding of the Toolbox’s purpose, whether it was easy to understand, the usefulness and format of the information presented, and how they might use the Toolbox in the future. Additional comments were sent to county staff via email during the comment period.
View the Public Engagement Summary(PDF, 2MB)
The Toolbox scored 7/10 on ease of understanding. Most people found the format of the Toolbox to be clear. About 50% of respondents thought the visuals were effective. More than 50% of respondents felt videos or animations of how the tools work would make the content easier to understand.
There were mixed responses about the level of detail provided for each tool: some respondents wanted more detail; others wanted the resource to be more concise. Respondents indicated that Safety Benefits and Expected Crash Reduction are the most useful pieces of information.
Based on the feedback received, we:
- Adjusted to reflect the disaggregated / additional tools
- Provided consistent illustrative graphics
- Identified plans to assess efficacy of tools over time (i.e., before/after studies)
- Rearranged sections to ensure it is cohesive and easy-to-follow
- Created an easily-digestible executive summary
- Reviewed language to remove excess words/ensure plain language
- Quality checked format and consistency issues
- Created a definitions section that gives descriptions of key terms
The project team presented the final draft at meetings of the Transportation Commission and Planning Commission in Fall 2022.
County guidelines (which we have developed and are developing) help us determine how to most effectively use the safety tools at our disposal. This includes pavement markings, pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, and rapid rectangular flashing beacons (RRFBs), to name a few.
The links below share existing guidance for safety treatments, with more on the way.
- Bus Stop Guidelines (Updated March 2020): This manual lays out the guidelines for bus stops within the County, and emphasizes accessibility for disabled riders, consistency in the design of bus stops, safety for all road users, and convenience and comfort for transit riders.
- Marked Crosswalk Guidelines (Updated August 2021): This manual describes the guidelines for the design and placement of marked crosswalks, with a focus on safety, accessibility, and uniformity.
- Sign Installation Guidelines (Updated May 2020): This standard establishes requirements for the size and location of signage to maximize visibility and ensure uniformity and safety.
- “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” Guidelines (Updated January 2021): This document lays out guidance for selecting locations in which to install a “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” plaque at stop signs to maximize safety at intersections where criteria are met.
- In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Sign Guidelines (Updated January 2021): This manual lays out guidelines for the placement of in-street pedestrian crossing signs to promote pedestrian safety at unsignalized locations and/or marked crosswalks.
- Median Nose Guidelines (Updated March 2019): This manual sets out design and location specifications for median noses at crosswalks, with an emphasis on pedestrian safety and accessibility. It provides options for the installation of measures at or near median noses to increase driver awareness to eliminate driver confusion and/or collisions with the median noses.
- Speed Feedback Indicator Sign Guidelines (Updated January 2021): This document describes guidelines for installation and use of Speed Feedback Indicator Signs, with an emphasis on discouraging speeding and promoting safety for all road users.
- Streetlight Installation Process (Updated 2020): This document examines the split ownership of Arlington’s streetlights between the county and Dominion and sets out guidelines for both the specifications of streetlights based on the situation in which they are to be installed and the installation process.
- Turning Vehicles Yield to Pedestrians Sign Guidelines (Updated January 2021): This document sets out guidelines for placement of these signs and focuses on ensuring that they are installed in locations to promote both pedestrian safety and efficient use of county resources.
- Multiway Stop Sign Guidelines(PDF, 122KB) (Updated November 2019): This document establishes warrants for placement of stop signs for multiple approaches at an intersection.
- School Zone Guidelines(PDF, 524KB) (Updated February 2023): This document provides basic guidelines for identifying school zone boundaries, determining the school zone speed limit type, and establishing the standard engineering tools applied within school zones to enhance safety and visibility.