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Pedestrian Deaths Reach An All-Time High

In 2021, an estimated 7,443 pedestrians in the U.S. were killed after being struck by a motor vehicle. When the Governors Highway Safety Association released this data, it was the largest number of annual pedestrian fatalities in four decades, with an average of 20 lives tragically lost each day.

But last year, in 2022, that number increased yet again – breaking the previous year’s four-decade high – with 7,508 pedestrian traffic deaths. Comparatively, there were 6,324 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. in 2019.

According to the National Safety Council, pedestrian deaths have been on the rise since 2010, and while overall traffic deaths decreased between 2007 and 2016, pedestrian fatalities steadily increased. Now, years later, reports show pedestrian deaths have drastically spiked in many states over the last two years.

Virginia Pedestrian Fatalities Statistics

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, there were 1,399 traffic crashes involving pedestrians in 2021 and 1,476 in 2022. Unfortunately, Virginia pedestrian accidents and fatalities match (even surpass) the national trend. There were 169 pedestrian deaths in Virginia in 2022, far exceeding the 125 fatalities recorded in 2021. This jump significantly contributed to the nation’s overall increase.

Some areas are known to be more dangerous for pedestrians. For example, 54 (or 36%) of the total pedestrian fatalities last year happened in Northern Virginia. Fairfax County reported 29 pedestrian fatalities in 2022, compared to just 14 in 2021.

Virginia Pedestrian Safety Initiatives

The numbers don’t lie. Virginia and the country as a whole are facing a public safety crisis that costs thousands of lives each year. Knowing that most pedestrian accidents are preventable, various pedestrian safety initiatives are underway to address and slow the rate of injuries and deaths, with more on the horizon.

Back in 2018, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced a plan to use Highway Safety Improvement Program funding for pedestrian safety projects. After hosting workshops and collecting proposals, the first round of their program led to the funding of 25 projects throughout the state.

Currently, many pedestrian safety plans are in effect across Virginia. They involve adding pedestrian treatments to decrease the number of accidents and are divided into two types. Individual cities have also made their own plans to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

Pedestrian Crossing Treatments

Crossing any road can be dangerous, but there are tools and specific infrastructure that can help reduce pedestrian accidents in Virginia. One such way is by adding pedestrian crossing treatments, and the state has committed to the following:

  • High-visibility crosswalks
  • Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons
  • Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons
  • Raised sidewalks

These include changes to crosswalk markings and patterns to get drivers to stop a safe distance away and draw attention to where pedestrian crossings are located. Special lighting only activated when a pedestrian is crossing and raised crosswalks will also be installed in Virginia.

Other types of pedestrian crossing treatments also feature unique lights – beacons – that have different flash and color settings, last long enough for people to cross the road and alert drivers that a pedestrian is ahead. In Richmond, Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are being installed on some of its busiest streets.

Intersection Safety Treatments

Virginia plans to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities in several ways. The intersection safety treatments outlined in the plan are:

  • Left-turn hardening
  • Speed management via signal timing strategies
  • Pedestrian signal control treatments
  • Smart lighting

The above intersection safety treatments include adding modular curbs and striping at intersections to reduce speeds and prevent cars from cutting corners. They also involve activating walk signals during every signal cycle at an intersection and setting some road lights to only allow turns over crossings when pedestrians are not allowed to cross. Smart lighting allows crosswalks to be dim when no one is around but then become brighter when a pedestrian activates the signal.

City Safety Plans to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents

Many cities in Virginia have created safety plans, allocated funding, and committed to initiatives to address the alarming increase in pedestrian accidents. A notable example is here in Alexandria, our bustling city with walkable districts like Old Town, which are especially prone to pedestrian accidents and deaths.

Over 150 pedestrians were killed or severely injured in Alexandria between 2017 and 2021. Upon analyzing data about these preventable, catastrophic losses, the city adopted Vision Zero, a traffic safety initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries, including crashes involving pedestrians. Cities throughout the U.S. and worldwide have implemented Vision Zero plans and no doubt more will commit to making roads and sidewalks safer in the coming months and years.

Why You Need a Virginia Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

There are many causes of pedestrian accidents in Virginia, including distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driver fatigue, speeding, illegal passing, and failure to obey traffic signals or signs. Unlike drivers or passengers in a motor vehicle, nothing protects pedestrians when they’re involved in an accident. As pedestrians, we are extremely vulnerable, and even low speeds can cause devastating injuries; traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and organ damage are some of the more serious pedestrian accident injuries, and in far too many cases, they’re fatal.

As pedestrian deaths nationwide reached a 41-year high in 2022, negligent drivers must be held responsible for their careless actions. Pedestrian accidents can be devastating for the victim and their family; they can seriously impact everyday life, including work, relationships, and mental, and physical health.

When a driver is liable, and the pedestrian didn’t contribute to causing the accident, a pedestrian accident lawsuit can help victims recover damages for current and future pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and more. In the worst case, if a loved one is killed in a pedestrian accident, the surviving family may seek compensation and accountability through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Due to the restrictions of Virginia law, pedestrian injury claims are complex and challenging, especially since it’s common for insurance companies to deny claims of this kind. They require specific legal knowledge and experience to navigate and prove a driver’s liability.

As Alexandria pedestrian accident attorneys, our firm has successfully fought against insurers who try to get out of paying a claim. We thoroughly understand Virginia’s road and highway laws and how they apply to pedestrian injury cases. We have the experience, resources, and a network of medical experts to ensure we get our clients the level of compensation they’re entitled to.

While money can’t take away the pain of losing someone you love or the health effects and struggles associated with injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident, it can provide financial stability and compensate victims for what they’ve endured and may endure in the future. The team at Curcio Law will protect your rights and advocate for you while you recover. Contact us online or call or text 703-836-3366 for a free consultation today.

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