It's Friday rush hour and you're driving near Lee Highway and Main Street in Fairfax City. The weather is clear and the road is dry. Perhaps you've just glanced at a newspaper on your lap.
That, say the city's police, is the perfect recipe for an accident.
According to recently released statistics by the Fairfax City police, the juncture was the city's most dangerous in 1989, with a record 36 accidents.
Ranking second, with 32 accidents, was Chain Bridge Road and Lee Highway, just south of Interstate 66 in the city, according to the report, compiled by Officer James E. Fey of the city's traffic division.
An estimated 50,000 vehicles travel the city's roadways each day and in 1989, automobile accidents in the city rose 11.4 percent from the previous year. Most were caused by failure to yield the right of way and driver inattention, and about 5 percent more people were injured in those accidents over the previous year, Fey found.
Nearly 70 percent of the accidents occurred when the road surface was dry, and angular collisions between cars were the most frequent type of accident, followed closely by rear end collisions, the study found. Not surprisingly, most accidents occurred in rush hour, stop-and-go traffic. Last year, pedestrians injuries were reduced by half over the previous year, with eight injuries reported.
The study also found that males, ages 21 to 25, were most likely to be involved in accidents and that of all the city's accidents, most (67 percent) involved Virginia residents, while 22 percent involved city residents, and about 10 percent involved out-of-state drivers. Only a small percentage of accidents involved speed or alcohol, the report said, "thanks to enforcement actions of the patrol officers who keep both of these factors very low."
In the report, Fey recommended installing more warning signs at troubled intersections and putting more patrol cars on the streets to beef up enforcement of motorists who follow too closely or who fail to pay attention and instead read, talk on cellular telephones or apply makeup while driving. Fey also recommended retiming traffic signals so cars would have to come to a complete stop between lights.