More than 125 pedestrians were fatally injured due to motor vehicle accidents in 2021 in the state of Virginia. The total figure of pedestrian fatalities and injuries continues to increase yearly, despite the strict laws and regulations we have in place. Pedestrians and motorists must engage in safe practices while sharing the road to decrease the number of pedestrian accidents that occur.
Laws Regarding Pedestrians
In Virginia, pedestrians must follow some specific rules when crossing the road. It is a common misconception that pedestrians always have the right of way, but that is not true. First and foremost, pedestrians must yield to all vehicles if there is no crosswalk or traffic signal. Pedestrians are required by law to use sidewalks and use crosswalks when they are available instead of using the roadway. According to Virginia code § 46.2-924, pedestrians are provided the right of way over cars while crossing in marked and unmarked crosswalks at the end or the middle of the block.
A pedestrian crossing an intersection with a crosswalk or pedestrian signal must still yield to oncoming traffic until the signal indicates it is safe to walk. Once the walking icon or words “WALK” appear, pedestrians have the right of way. Even when pedestrians have the right of way, they should always be cautious and mindful of turning vehicles.
Pedestrians always have the right of way on a sidewalk. If a pedestrian is injured by a motorist while on a sidewalk, the injured pedestrian may be able to take legal action.
Who is At Fault for Pedestrian Crashes Outside of Sidewalks?
In Virginia, state laws strictly prohibit pedestrians from crossing the roadway outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk. If a pedestrian steps in front of a car, the driver can’t stop the vehicle fast enough to avoid hitting the person. They might not even see them coming. The safest thing pedestrians can do is wait until they’re at a crosswalk before stepping into the street.
People must follow the rules for pedestrians crossing the road to avoid being seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident.
Pedestrian Safety Facts
Pedestrian safety is crucial, and the following alarming statistics reflect the effects that come with making it less of a priority:
- On average, a pedestrian suffers fatal injuries in a crash every 80 minutes. A pedestrian is injured due to a crash every eight minutes.
- Travelers on foot are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in traffic collisions than those inside passenger vehicles.
- In 2021, 7,485 pedestrians lost their lives due to traffic crashes in the United States.
- Pedestrians involved in crashes with vehicles traveling above 40-MPH have an 85% chance of suffering fatal injuries.
- About 73% of pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersections.
- Alcohol is involved in about 46% of all fatal pedestrian crashes.
- The risk of being involved in a fatal pedestrian crash increases at night. The vast majority of pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
By understanding the risks associated with walking on or near roadways, pedestrians can take steps to protect themselves from injury or death. Wearing reflective clothing, avoiding drugs or alcohol, crossing at intersections, and walking on sidewalks are all good ways to stay safe while walking.
Safety Guidelines for Pedestrians, Cyclists, and Motorists
When it comes to sharing the road, there are some basic safety guidelines that everyone should follow. Here are a few tips for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists to help keep everyone safe:
- Always use the sidewalks where available. If you have to walk in the street, stay as close to the edge as possible and walk against traffic.
- Be alert, and don’t be distracted by your phone or other devices.
- Make eye contact or get the driver’s attention before crossing the street. Don’t assume they see you!
- Avoid walking at night if possible. Wear bright clothing or reflective gear if you must walk after the sun sets.
- Obey all traffic laws just like any other vehicle on the road. This includes pausing at red lights and stop signs.
- Ride in the direction of traffic, not against it. It can be tempting to ride on the sidewalk, but it’s much more dangerous.
- Use hand signals to let drivers know when you’re turning or stopping.
- Always wear a helmet! Head injuries are one of the top cycling injuries recorded in recent years, so protecting yourself is essential.
- Be extra cautious when driving near pedestrians and cyclists. Remember that they are more vulnerable than you are in a collision, so give them plenty of space.
- Watch for hand signals from cyclists and be prepared to yield if necessary.
- Follow posted speed limits and drive without distractions.
Call for Legal Help After a Pedestrian Accident in Virginia
Unfortunately, no matter how much you prioritize road safety while traveling along Virginia roadways, you cannot prevent others from engaging in reckless driving. If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been harmed due to a pedestrian accident, you may have legal actions available to help compensate for your injuries. Scheduling a free consultation with our Virginia pedestrian accident lawyers at Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC, can help ensure your rights are protected and that you properly compensated.
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