DRIVE SMART Virginia raising awareness this September

Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 5:35 AM EDT
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When you're driving, it's important to keep in mind that you're sharing the road, not just with other drivers, but with bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians as well.

That's why Governor Terry McAuliffe has recognized September as 'Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month,' and one traffic safety nonprofit is using this opportunity to remind everyone that safety on the road relies on mutual respect for one another.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 78 pedestrians and 15 bicyclists were killed due to traffic crashes last year, which was a 25% increase compared to 2014.

These numbers aren't sitting well with DRIVE SMART Virginia, so they're stepping up to try and bring those numbers down for good.

DRIVE SMART Virginia wants to remind everyone that:

1. Motorists must follow Virginia's 3-foot-law when passing a bicyclist.

2. Bicyclists must also follow traffic laws, use hand signals and have proper lights for their bike.

3. Pedestrians should keep to sidewalks and designated crossing areas.

4. If there's no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the side of the road facing traffic.

5. If you're using the roadways in any way, be alert, stay off your phone and keep your eyes on the road.

Distraction plays a big part in traffic-related accidents and it's not just drivers who get distracted; it can happen to pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

Rich Jacobs, the Public Relations and Outreach Manager at DRIVE SMART, said the best way to stay safe is to look out for each other.

"Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month isn't to single out any particular group," said Jacobs. "It's to make everyone aware that they should be more aware of everyone else."

Jacobs said that he hopes raising awareness will promote a culture of safety on Virginia's roadways.

He also said that everyone can help to promote a safer traffic environment and that people can start building those good habits now.

DRIVE SMART will be using the hashtag #ShareTheRoad this September to share their message through social media.

They also have posters, brochures and other materials available for free, plus the nonprofit will even pay for shipping to anywhere in Virginia.