Pedestrian accident fatalities have been increasing throughout the nation for more than a decade. Over the last several years, Virginia has contributed significantly to this increase, surpassing most other states for annual pedestrian fatalities, particularly in Fairfax County.
In 2022, there were 169 pedestrian deaths in Virginia, a significant increase over the previous year’s four-decade high of 125. Compared to this year, recorded pedestrian fatalities in Virginia are below what they were. However, there’s an emerging and concerning new trend in the state that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles wants the public to know about and help curb: pedestrian accidents are on the rise for young people.
Those at greatest risk of being fatally injured in a pedestrian accident are people over the age of sixty. The age group consistently represents around 25 percent of pedestrian deaths across the country. But so far, in 2023, 25 percent of pedestrian accident fatalities in Virginia have been people in their thirties.
Just how drastic is this increase? By the end of September 2022, pedestrian deaths among those in their thirties accounted for 10 percent of all fatalities (11 deaths). Just one year later, there were an astounding 23 fatalities involving this age group, 12 more than last year at that time. There are countless road dangers and causes of pedestrian accidents and injuries from collisions with motor vehicles. Unfortunately, pedestrians have a much greater risk of catastrophic injuries when struck by a vehicle.
Why Are Virginia Pedestrian Deaths Increasing Among Young People?
According to a release by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles in September of 2023, close to half of all the fatal pedestrian crashes among people in their thirties this year involved pedestrians who had been drinking alcohol. What’s even more concerning about this is that it’s a major increase over last year at the same time.
Fatal accidents involving a pedestrian who had been drinking are up 52 percent – there have been 32 deaths in 2023 versus 21 in 2022. Pedestrian fatalities typically happen after dark, in urban areas, and when pedestrians cross improperly or walk on the road.
As a result of the increased risks to a younger population and the known causes of accidents, the Virginia DMV urges pedestrians to stay alert, cross with caution, and arrange safe rides home when they’re out drinking.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in Virginia
Many factors contribute to motor vehicle accidents with pedestrians, and alcohol consumption among the driver and/or person on foot happens far too frequently. Other common causes of Virginia pedestrian accidents include distracted driving, poor lighting or weather conditions, failure to yield the right of way, speeding, failure to obey traffic signals and stop signs.
While drivers are frequently at fault in pedestrian accidents, this is not always the case. Sometimes, pedestrians are at least partially liable. Being distracted by phones, failing to cross at crosswalks or intersections, and walking on highways that prohibit pedestrians are also common causes of pedestrian accident injuries and deaths in Virginia.
The effects of a pedestrian accident are typically quite serious, and they cause short- and long-term injuries that impact all aspects of a victim’s life. Broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, deep lacerations, and organ damage are some of the common types of pedestrian injuries.
But they’re also emotionally and mentally traumatic, not to mention the financial burden that comes from medical care, treatments, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and surgeries. Hiring a Virginia pedestrian accident attorney can help injured pedestrians receive fair and adequate compensation.
Injured pedestrians in Virginia should consult with legal representation because of the state’s contributory negligence law. If the pedestrian contributed to the cause of the crash in any way, they cannot recover compensation for their injuries. Due to this strict law, insurance companies and drivers’ defense lawyers almost always claim the pedestrian was at fault in at least a minor way.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
With Virginia pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities on the rise for people in their thirties and the often life-changing impact of these crashes at any age, it’s crucial pedestrians take certain precautions to stay safe. Everyone has a duty to use sidewalks and roads responsibly, and failing to do so can have serious consequences.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles encourages the public to follow these pedestrian safety tips:
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings (look for cars that are backing up, stay off your phone)
- Follow the rules of the road (obey signs and signals)
- Be visible (wear reflective clothing, carry a blinking light or flashlight)
- Use sidewalks when available (walk against traffic when there isn’t one)
- Cross at crosswalks and intersections (look for cars, make eye contact with drivers when possible)
There are many ways pedestrians can lower the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. However, these crashes still occur, even when precautions are taken, and can have devastating effects. When a driver is at fault, there are legal options that can help victims recover compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
If you were in a Virginia pedestrian accident or the worst happened, and someone you loved was killed in one, contact the attorneys at Curcio Law. We know pedestrian accident injuries and an unexpected death can cause much more than physical pain; they’re expensive, cause emotional suffering, and affect entire families, jobs, relationships, and overall enjoyment of life. Our Virginia pedestrian accident lawyers have years of experience fighting against insurance companies and defense lawyers to get the compensation our clients need and deserve.
When someone else’s negligence or dangerous driving caused you harm, let us protect your rights. If you’re the victim of a pedestrian accident or a family member was killed in a crash, contact us online or call or text 1-703-836-3366 for a free case consultation.
Justin Curcio joined Curcio Law in January 2020. Justin received his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 2015. After passing the Virginia Bar in 2015, Justin was in-house counsel for an insurance defense firm (Allstate/Esurance/Encompass) for over four years before joining Curcio Law. During law school, he worked for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the law firm of Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, LLP. Contact Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org.