Deaths of pedestrians age 51 and older spike
As daylight saving time comes to an end Nov. 3, the Governor’s Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety urges motorists and pedestrians to travel with extra caution as darker roadways often result in an increase of pedestrians being struck by vehicles. Over the past five years, 25% of annual pedestrian fatalities on Virginia roadways have occurred during the months of November and December, when daylight hours grow increasingly shorter.
The warning comes at an important time. Virginia currently is experiencing a significant increase in the deaths of pedestrians ages 51 and older. According to preliminary statistics from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 50 pedestrians in this age group were killed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1 this year, compared to 26 at this time last year, an increase of 92%. The most senior pedestrians have been particularly affected. Sixteen pedestrians over 70 were killed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1 this year, compared to seven at this time last year, an increase of nearly 129%.
Governor Ralph Northam first began a push for pedestrian safety in April when he proclaimed the month as Virginia Highway Safety Month and called attention to a startling decade-high number of pedestrian fatalities in 2018. His Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety continues to draw awareness to this important issue. Led by the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, the team is comprised of representatives from the Virginia Departments of Motor Vehicles, Health, Education, VDOT and State Police. They are charged with reducing serious injuries and fatalities on Virginia’s roadways and driving change in the Commonwealth’s highway safety culture.
“Last year, 123 pedestrians were killed on Virginia’s roadways, which was the highest number of pedestrian fatalities reported in the past 10 years. Tragically, we are on pace for an equally high number of deaths again this year,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “With the help of motorists and pedestrians working together, there’s still time to reverse course.”