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New Fairfax County ordinance requires drivers to stop, rather than yield, for pedestrians

A car drives through a crosswalk on Cedar Lane for the Washington and Old Dominion Trail (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A new ordinance being considered by the Board of Supervisors could require drivers to be more careful around pedestrians.

The new ordinance aligns Fairfax County with a 2023 Code of Virginia change requiring drivers to stop — rather than yield — for pedestrians crossing in the driver’s lane, in an adjacent lane, or approaching the driver’s lane.

The change would require changing signage around the County with an estimated $95,000 bill.

At a Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, Acting Fairfax County Department of Transportation Director Gregg Steverson said while the policy is enforceable by police County-wide, failing to stop for pedestrians can only have additional fines at intersections with the sign.

Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said the County will need to work to ensure information gets out about the change.

“It’s complicated for people to understand and complicated for our police to do enforcement,” McKay said. “This is a good thing; it’s an additional tool in our toolbox to prevent pedestrian fatalities and raise awareness about pedestrian laws, but at the same time, it’s going to be a hard one to communicate.”

Supervisor James Walkinshaw said the change sounds relatively simple, but involved extensive behind-the-scenes bureaucratic back and forth over what authority Fairfax County did or didn’t have.

“[We] had many meetings to get this issue resolved,” Walkinshaw said.  “It’s more complicated than it sounds when you dig into it, but I’m excited to see us moving forward.”

The ordinance change is scheduled for a public hearing on May 7.