High School Student Helps Make Arlington Streets Safer

Pedestrians in Arlington, Virginia, may notice flashing yellow lights when crossing the street, thanks to one high schooler who’s working to make streets safer.

Arlington County has put up several new rapid flash beacons to keep pedestrians safe at busy intersections.

Jake Smith, who graduated Yorktown High School on Thursday, interned with the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services to help them plan their beacon project and keep cars accountable.

“They see ‘Hey, this pedestrian wants me to yield. Everyone around me sees that I should be yielding,'” Smith said, “It serves as a little bit of encouragement, a nudge in the right direction hopefully.”

Smith said he wanted to keep people safe on the streets at a young age. He studied intersections to figure out which ones needed beacons the most, identifying places where cars tend to speed and not slow down for people.

Arlington County has put up 14 beacons with plans for more on the way.

“They’re really useful, they help a lot,” said Jared Garfinkel, who lives near a beacon.

Garfinkel said walking to class at Washington-Lee High School used to make him nervous without the beacon.

Smith said there won’t be a beacon at every crosswalk because drivers may get too used to them.

“This helps put everyone on the same page, it helps communicate obviously without words,” Smith said.

Contact Us