Virginia experiences a significant increase in pedestrian deaths

Published: Nov. 25, 2019 at 2:28 PM EST
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The number of people hit and killed while crossing the street in Virginia is up this year. October, November, and December are the peak times for pedestrian-related accidents, according to statistics.

That’s, in part, due to Daylight Saving Time. Changing the clocks also changes the risk.

"When clocks fall back, both commutes, both the morning and evening commutes are in the dark, which reduces visibility for drivers and often results in an increase in the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles,” Communications Coordinator VDOT Will Merritt said.

In the first 10 months of last year, there were 97 pedestrian fatalities. This year, there were 100 in the same time-span and there were 19 more in October alone.

"Safety is a shared responsibility and so drivers need to always pay attention for pedestrians and follow the rules of the road by yielding to pedestrians, those that are crossing in a crosswalk and pedestrians also need to do their part,” Merritt said.

Most of the people killed while crossing roads are older.

"Virginia is experiencing a significant increase in deaths of pedestrians ages 51 and older, in fact about a 92% increase between 2018 and 2019 for that age group alone,” Merritt said.

Besides Daylight Saving Time, the spike in accidents may also be attributed to cell phones and distracted driving.

"There's nothing so urgent about a phone call or a message or that makes it worthwhile to put someone's life at risk, which is what happens when one drives while distracted,” Pedestrian Advocate Peter Krebs said.

VDOT says traffic designs can help keep people safe by making sure road projects are wide enough to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.