Why are Pedestrian Deaths and Injuries on the Rise in VA?
Pedestrian deaths have been increasing in recent years both nationally and in Virginia. According to the Governors Highway Association, there were 6590 pedestrian deaths in the US in 2019, which was a 5% increase over the previous year, and the highest number of deaths recorded since 1988.
In Virginia, there have been more than 100 pedestrian fatalities for the past four consecutive years, and the number of fatalities in the Commonwealth has been especially high lately among seniors. 37 pedestrians aged 65 and older were killed in crashes in 2019, which is a large jump from the 19 senior pedestrians who lost their lives in 2018.
What is Causing the Increase in Pedestrian Crashes in Virginia?
There are several factors that experts believe are contributing to the recent rise in pedestrian accidents. These include:
Increased Pedestrian Traffic
Some of the reason for the rise in pedestrian accidents can be explained by the fact that there is more pedestrian traffic today than ever before. The population in Virginia continues to grow, and our society is increasingly focused on their health and the environment. For example, more and more people are choosing to walk or ride their bicycles to work rather than drive, and walking is a preferred form of exercise, especially during the warmer months of the year.
More Pedestrian Traffic at Night
More people are also choosing to walk during the nighttime hours after dark, and we know that this is the most dangerous time for pedestrians to be out. Nighttime crashes accounted for approximately 90% of the increase in pedestrian fatalities over the past decade, and this highlights the need for safer road crossings – particularly on local roads with poorly lit intersections.
Larger Vehicles on the Road
Since 2013, the number of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that have been involved in pedestrian accidents has risen by 50%. SUVs and other larger vehicles account for a growing percentage of the vehicles that are on the roads, and there are several reasons for this. One is that fuel prices have been relatively low over the past seven years. Another is that up until the COVID-19 shut down, we were in the midst of one of the longest economic recoveries in history and consumers had more money to spend on vehicles.
Drivers of larger vehicles have a harder time seeing pedestrians on the road. And when their vehicle collides with a pedestrian, there is a greater likelihood of serious and catastrophic injuries.
Perhaps the largest contributor to the rise in pedestrian deaths and injuries is the sheer number of distractions we all deal with in today’s digital age. During the past decade, smartphones have become mainstream, and nearly everyone has one. Drivers who send and receive texts and other electronic messages distract themselves visually, manually, and cognitively, which means their entire focus is taken away from the road. This makes it easier to miss important things that are happening, such as a pedestrian that is crossing in front of them.
Important Safety Tips for Pedestrians
With the increased dangers of getting hit by a vehicle, pedestrians need to do everything they can to protect themselves when they are out walking. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of being hurt in a pedestrian crash:
- Wear bright and reflective clothing, especially at night.
- Try to cross at controlled crosswalks where there are street and traffic lights.
- If there is not a crosswalk or intersection available, cross the road in an area that is well lit.
- Always stop before crossing the road to check for vehicles, even if you have the right-of-way.
- If possible, always try to make eye contact with drivers before you cross the road in front of them.
- Put away your phone and other distractions while you are walking in order to stay focused on your surroundings.
Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Charlottesville, VA? Contact a Skilled and Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer
Even if you implement all of the best pedestrian safety practices, you cannot control the actions of others. If you or someone close to suffered injury in a pedestrian crash in Virginia, Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz is here to help. Message us online or call our office today at (434) 977-7977 for a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!