There are nearly 4,000 miles of roads in Fairfax County, and many are now being re-engineered to be more pedestrian friendly. But we all play in a role in keeping each other safe on the streets.
So far in 2020, there have been dozens of pedestrian crashes on county roads, including fatalities. Nationally, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have hit their highest levels in the past 30 years.
What Can Drivers Do?
Slow down! Most of our pedestrian fatalities are on roadways with 40 or 45 miles-per-hour speed limits (Route 1, Route 7, Route 236 and Route 29), so it’s important to pay attention to the signs and not exceed the limit.
A new law in Virginia this year requires drivers to stop (not just yield) to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks until the pedestrian has cleared the lane. This includes all lanes and both directions at clearly marked crosswalks; any regular pedestrian crossing (such as residential intersections) even if unmarked; or at any intersection where the maximum speed limit is not more than 35 miles per hour.
As speed increases, the risk of serious injury or fatality for a pedestrian also increases. In addition, drivers’ visual field and peripheral vision is reduced at higher speeds, as shown in this graphic from AARP.
In addition, distracted driving can lead to accidents, so put your phone down while driving — it can wait.
Keep these additional tips in mind while you are on the road:
What Can Pedestrians Do?
Pedestrians need to ensure the roadway is clear before stepping into the crosswalk. Make eye contact with drivers. Pedestrians should assume drivers do not see them as they begin to cross the street.
Steps that pedestrians can take to be safer:
Get more tips on pedestrian safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
The highest number of pedestrian fatalities occur from 6 to 9 p.m. and the second highest from 9 p.m. to midnight, according to NHTSA.
Streetlights play an important safety role, so how can you help?
Report streetlights that are out to Dominion Energy or NOVEC and keep your neighborhood or local streets safe for all.
Making Pedestrian Safety a Priority
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has designated millions of dollars in federal, state and county funding under the direction of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation to construct pedestrian improvements in high-priority areas. These projects include:
- New crosswalks with pedestrian signals.
- Upgrading existing crosswalks to include pedestrian signals.
- Constructing new walkways and trails.
- Upgrading existing walkways and constructing ADA accessible curb ramps.
- Pedestrian refuge islands.
- Decreasing turn radii.
- Curb extensions and bulb-outs.
- Bus stop improvements.
- Yield to pedestrian signs.