Every year, the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Virginia Highway Safety Office releases its annual Virginia Traffic Crash Facts report. According to the most recent report from 2018, as well as studies compiling preliminary data from 2019, the commonwealth has experienced its highest pedestrian fatality rates in the past two years.
According to the 2018 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts report:
- There were 1,623 pedestrian accidents in Virginia in 2018, an increase of 0.9% from the previous year, and 123 pedestrian fatalities, an increase of 7.9% from 2017
- 123 pedestrians were killed and 1,584 were injured in pedestrian accidents in Virginia in 2018
- Of the total number of pedestrians injured in Virginia in 2018, 424 sustained “serious injuries”
- Pedestrians between the ages of 21 and 25 suffered the greatest number of injuries at 179, followed by pedestrians between the ages of 26 and 30, with 155
- Pedestrians between the ages of 46 and 50 suffered the greatest number of fatalities, at 16, followed by pedestrians over the age of 70, at 14
- 44 pedestrian fatalities and 223 pedestrian injuries in Virginia in 2018 were related to alcohol
- 25 pedestrian fatalities and 81 pedestrian injuries in Virginia in 2018 were speed-related
Almost across the board, 2018 saw increases in nearly all types of pedestrian accidents in Virginia, including those involving injuries, fatalities, urban areas, and rural roadways. While the Virginia Highway Safety Office has yet to release its official 2019 report, preliminary data revealed that pedestrian accident and fatality rates for last year were on pace to be even higher than those recorded for 2018.
How You Can Stay Safe
Due to the alarming pedestrian accident rates throughout Virginia, it’s important that you know how to stay safe while out walking, jogging, or traveling on foot near roadways and along streets. Even as traffic rates plunge across the nation due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and various “stay-at-home” orders, pedestrians should always pay attention to their surroundings and practice safe behavior to avoid being involved in an accident with a motor vehicle.
Here are some pedestrian safety tips you can follow to ensure your own safety and the safety of others around you:
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid engaging in distracting behaviors, such as texting or looking at social media, while walking and keep an eye out for potential hazards.
- Always cross in designated crosswalks or at intersections when possible.
- Obey traffic control devices, such as crossing signals, traffic lights, stop signs, crossing guards, etc.
- Avoid “jaywalking” (crossing outside of crosswalks, against lights, and at non-intersections) as much as possible.
- If walking at night, wear bright, reflective clothing and cross only in well-lit, designated areas. Carry a flashlight if you are out at night (or use your phone’s flashlight feature).
- Stay clear of obstacles—such as parked cars, hedges, and buildings—before crossing to help ensure that motorists see you.
- Avoid making unpredictable movements, such as darting into traffic, crossing where it is prohibited, or crossing against traffic lights/signals.
- Use sidewalks whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and stay as far to the side of the road as possible.
- Don’t assume a motorist has seen you; try to make eye contact with motorists before crossing to ensure that they are aware of your presence.
- Keep an eye out for cars and other vehicles making left-hand turns and backing out of driveways/parking lots.
- Avoid walking after drinking or if you have taken drugs, as these can impair your judgement and ability to gauge distance.
- If possible, yield to oncoming cars that do not appear to see you. Even if you have the right-of-way, it is best to stay out of the path of oncoming vehicles.
What to Do If You or a Loved One Was Involved in a Pedestrian Accident
If you or someone you care about was hit by a car while on foot, it’s important that you know you have legal rights, including the right to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault person/party. For help with your claim, contact our pedestrian accident attorneys at Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC. We can walk you through your legal rights and options and, if appropriate, aggressively pursue the maximum compensation you need and deserve.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.