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Virginia Injury Blog
Pedestrian Safety in Virginia – Frequently Asked Questions

My hometown motivates me to work hard for my client and get results.- John Cooper

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Pedestrian Safety in Virginia – Frequently Asked Questions

The cities of Virginia are not pedestrian-friendly environments, and urban Hampton Roads is the second most dangerous place in the state for those on foot.

In cities such as Norfolk, Newport News and Virginia Beach, we see a combination of wide, fast-moving urban highways with few crosswalks, sidewalks or underpasses to help walkers out.  Even when there are lights for pedestrians, you may wait for a long time and face a time crunch to cross. Tragically too many pedestrians take risks, but there is also a pedestrian-unfriendly driving culture and we have seen pedestrians mowed down on crosswalks in recent years.

The 2014 report Dangerous by Design by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition said more than 47,000 pedestrians died on America’s roads from 2003 to 2012 and 676,000 were injured. That’s 16 times more than the number of people who died in natural disasters in the last decade.

The Dangerous by Design report claims the worst cities for pedestrian deaths are those that boomed after World War Two when urban design favored the motorist. Orlando in Florida is the most dangerous city in the U.S. for walkers, followed by Tampa and Jacksonville in the same state.

Hampton Roads is the 36th most dangerous urban area in the country for pedestrians, but Richmond is the 19th worst.

As a pedestrian, there are no quick fixes to the problem beyond giving your local planning department and politicians a hard time and demanding more crosswalks, sidewalks, and multi-use paths, but there are some basic safety tips you can follow. Here are some questions and answers about pedestrian safety, adapted from advice from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

1 Where Do Most Pedestrian Deaths Occur?

In urban areas. In cities with a population more than 1 million, pedestrian deaths account for just over a third of all motor vehicle fatalities.

2 Does Alcohol Play a Part in Pedestrian Deaths?

 As many as one-third of all adult pedestrians who are killed in traffic crashes have blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.10 percent or more. If you have been drinking alcohol, you should not drive, but this statistic makes it clear how your impaired judgment could also claim your life while walking. If you have been drinking alcohol, you should avoid walking in places where you are likely to come into contact with vehicles.

3  Which Pedestrians Are Most at Risk?

Elderly pedestrians aged 70 and above, face the greatest risk of pedestrian accidents.

4 How do most pedestrian injuries occur?

The most common scenario is being struck by the front of a passenger vehicle.

5 What is jaywalking?

Jaywalking is when walkers cross the road at any point other than a crosswalk or corner.

6 How May it Affect Your Liability?

If you are hit in a crosswalk, you have more rights to sue a driver than if you are jaywalking. See this blog for more details.

7 What is the Correct Way to Scan the Street Before Crossing?

 Stop first and then look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT, as well as over your shoulder for turning traffic before crossing. Even on a crosswalk, drivers may fail to stop so you should make sure to look.

If you have been hit and hurt by a car while crossing the street or if a loved one has lost their lives, call our Hampton Roads pedestrian accident lawyers today at (757) 455-0077.

Griff O'Hanlon


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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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