Drivers: Share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists
September is Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month in Virginia. It’s an important time to remember to “See and Be Seen,” which is Drive Smart Virginia’s campaign to inform all road users that they have a responsibility to be aware of other travelers.
Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on roadways have spiked in recent years. According to Drive Smart Virginia, in 2017:
- 114 pedestrians died, and 1,571 were injured on roadways
- 13 bicyclists were killed, and 623 were injured on roadways
- 42% of pedestrian deaths involved alcohol impairment
- The top pedestrian action contributing to fatalities was crossing the road where there was not an intersection
- Pedestrians were at fault in fatal crashes 37 percent of the time.
“The increase in deaths and injuries of pedestrians and bicyclists on Virginia roadways is not good news,” said Darlene Wells, executive vice president and general manager of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., and a member of the Drive Smart Virginia board of directors. “Everyone has the right to use the roadways, and it is important that everyone is looking out for each other.”
Motorists, pedestrians and cyclists all have an obligation to help ensure the safety of everyone on the roadways.
Motorists should focus on the road and not drive while distracted or impaired. Always slow down when you spot a bicyclist or pedestrian, and give them space.
Pedestrians and cyclists need ensure their visibility by wearing bright or reflective clothing. Bikers should wear a helmet and use bike lights or a flashlight as appropriate. Never bike or walk while impaired, and always cross at crosswalks or intersections. Do not bike or walk distracted.
Virginia roadway laws to keep in mind:
- Bicyclists and motorists are to use the right side of the road and yield to pedestrians.
- Pedestrians should use crosswalks and sidewalks. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Obey all traffic signals and signs.
- Provide at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicyclist on the roadway.
For more information, visit drivesmartva.org.