Crossing the road has never been more deadly in Virginia. That’s the conclusion to be drawn from new figures that show pedestrian deaths hit an all-time high in Virginia in 2022.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently released its 2022 Traffic Crash Facts report. The study records how Virginia’s roads became even more dangerous in 2022 than during the previous year. This was particularly the case for pedestrians. The DMV found a record 171 pedestrians died on the roads of Virginia in 2022, a 36.8% increase over 2021.
As Virginia car accident lawyers, we are horrified by this statistic. For years cities have added features to safeguard pedestrians such as new crosswalks and sidewalks. Increasing numbers of cars are fitted with backup cameras and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). The spike in pedestrian deaths comes as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg launches a campaign to reduce highway deaths to zero.
The reality is more careless, reckless, and drunk drivers are mowing down pedestrians in cities such as Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Newport News.
As well as a spike in pedestrian deaths, more walkers sustained injuries in Virginia in 2022. Specifically in the Commonwealth:
- Pedestrian crashes rose by 5.5% year-on-year to 1,476.
- Pedestrian deaths on urban roads rose by 43.4% to 142
- 450 pedestrians suffered serious injuries.
Most of Virginia’s pedestrian deaths took place at night when visibility is reduced ad alcohol or drugs is more likely to be a factor. The report noted 55 fatal crashes occurred on lighted roads at night (32% of deaths), while 72 fatal crashes occurred on unlit roads at night (42.1%). Another 39 deadly pedestrian crashes occurred during daylight hours.
However, the largest number of pedestrian injuries (733 comprising almost 53%) occurred during daylight hours.
Walkers suffered multiple deaths and injuries in Virginia Beach last year. In August 2022, a pickup driver hit two people on a crosswalk near Constitution Drive in Virginia Beach Town Center. Rosa Blanco, a 76-year-old woman who served multiple roles in the city’s Filipino community, tragically died of her injuries, according to media reports.
Pedestrians in their 20s recorded the highest death rate last year, according to the report. However, over 60% of walkers who died were aged 51 or higher. The report found 49 of the pedestrians who lost their lives in 2022 had been drinking alcohol.
The DMV report reveals the number of pedestrian deaths in Virginia has more than doubled in a decade. In 2013 the state recorded 78 pedestrian deaths.
The rise in pedestrian deaths led to a call for infrastructure improvements from Brantley Tyndall, President of the Virginia Bicycling Federation. “These people were walking where they have walked their entire lives, and they were killed because traffic is moving faster and drivers are much less cognizant, whether they are impaired, distracted, or who knows,” he told the Virginia Mercury.
The statistics question the effectiveness of a new “hands-free” phone law that Virginia enacted in 2020. It was intended to protect walkers and other drivers.
Nevertheless, the Virginia Traffic Crash Facts report highlighted a 1.1% decrease in distracted driver-involved crashes which fell to 20,679 and an 18.8% fall in deaths linked to distracted driving, down to 95.
A 10.9% rise in drunk driving-related deaths to 274 last year likely contributed to Virginia hitting an all-time high for pedestrian deaths in 2022.
Virginia Pedestrian Safety Tips
Given the increased hazards faced by walkers, always take the following precautions to avoid becoming a statistic if you are on foot.
- Take an Uber or a Lyft if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing at night
- Use reflective strips on backpacks or dog leads.
- Always cross at crosswalks and wait for walk signals at lights;
- Use sidewalks where available;
- Walk toward oncoming traffic if there are no sidewalks;
- Accompany young children to school bus stops;
- Look both ways before crossing the road;
- Do not suddenly jump into roadways;
- Seek alternative routes that avoid crossing busy highways where possible;
- Use pedestrian trails and multi-use paths where provided.
Talk to a Virginia Beach Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Pedestrians are facing increasing dangers in Virginia Beach and elsewhere. Take precautions and avoid crossing the road if in doubt. If you or a family member suffers an injury in Hampton Roads or elsewhere in Virginia, please contact our experienced Virginia car accident experts as soon as possible at (757) 333-3333 for a free consultation. It’s important to hold drivers accountable for the increase in walker deaths and injuries in Virginia.