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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