Car accidents can be especially fatal when they involve pedestrians and cyclists. But how common are these accidents in Virginia?
Understanding the data around these collisions can help cyclists and pedestrians stay safe on and near Virginia roads.
Accidents by the data
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported that in 2016, out of 761 traffic fatalities, 121 were pedestrians. Surprisingly, most of these incidents did not occur at intersections but along roadsides. They most commonly occur at night and in urban areas. Officials reported that one in three pedestrian fatalities occurred after the victim had been drinking alcohol.
Virginia Department of Transportation reports approximately 700 bicycle crashes each year and approximately 10 cyclist deaths due to crashes. The vast majority of these occur in urban areas. Nighttime and intersections also pose a high risk, and cyclists who weave in and out of traffic place themselves in particular danger.
Avoiding these incidents starts with making responsible and safe decisions about walking and cycling near roads. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles suggests always crossing the road at intersections and crosswalks and to avoid crossing the road at places where drivers may not expect a pedestrian or cyclist.
Wearing bright clothing and using lights — especially at night — can also help avoid accidents, as can making eye contact with drivers before crossing a road.
Cyclists should generally “take the lane,” meaning that they should drive in the center of the lane with cars instead of staying to the side of the road. This helps improve visibility and discourages drivers from trying to squeeze by cyclists in dangerous situations.
Always walk and ride in predictable ways, and do not suddenly swerve or enter traffic. Use good judgment and pay attention.