In the ten years spanning 2009 through 2018, pedestrian safety across Virginia appears to have declined significantly.
According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 74 pedestrians died statewide in 2009. In 2018, the state recorded 118 pedestrian fatalities.
The rise in pedestrian deaths
In addition to a rise in the number of pedestrian deaths in Virginia, these fatalities comprise a greater percentage of overall traffic fatalities than they did in the past. The 2009 pedestrian deaths represented 9.8% of the state’s total vehicular fatalities compared with 14.4% in 2018.
Even in the five years between 2014 and 2018, Virginia experienced and up-and-down trend regarding pedestrian fatalities with foot traffic representing 12.5% of all fatalities in 2014, 10.2% in 2015 and 16% in 2016. The slight decline to 13.2% was followed by another jump in 2018.
New vehicle technology fails to help
Despite claims made by vehicle manufacturers, many advanced safety features included in today’s cars fail to work as promised. A study conducted by AAA evaluated test autos equipped with pedestrian detection systems and automatic braking systems. Consumer Reports indicates that AAA declared both systems ineffective at night, when the bulk of all pedestrian fatalities happen.
During the daylight hours, the best result achieved by the test still found the pedestrian dummies hit by the test vehicles 60% of the time. These scenarios included adult-sized pedestrians in a crosswalk directly in front of the vehicles. The vehicles operated at a mere 20 miles per hour. Results of tests including child-sized pedestrian dummies yielded even worse metrics.