Traffic accidents in Virginia killed 100 pedestrians in 2012, an increase from 75 the year before, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
In the city of Richmond, two pedestrians were killed and 124 were injured in traffic collisions in 2012. The year before, four pedestrians were killed and 120 injured in Richmond.
Accidents involving pedestrians are more likely on streets and roads that lack crosswalks, sidewalks, and other amenities that improve safety for people on foot. In the busy urban and suburban areas around Richmond, people face risks every time they head out for a walk.
Deaths and injuries to pedestrians are a significant concern nationwide. Nearly 50,000 pedestrians were killed in accidents between 2001 and 2011. Major U.S. cities like New York reported an increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2013.
Transportation for America, or T4America, is a nationwide advocacy organization that brings leaders together to lobby for transportation funding. In 2011, T4America shed light on the U.S. pedestrian safety crisis in a paper called Dangerous by Design. The author of the report, Michelle Ernst, concluded that poorly designed roads cause pedestrian fatalities.
Ernst decried the lack of funding for pedestrian safety initiatives and argued that pedestrian-friendly programs should account for a larger share of the dollars used for traffic safety.
Multi-lane roads are particularly dangerous for pedestrians. More than half of the car wrecks that killed pedestrians were on roads with higher speed limits than neighborhood streets. Multi-lane commuter arteries often lack sidewalks and crosswalks, and taken altogether it’s risky to walk alongside busy surface streets, commercial zones, or highways. About 40% of deadly pedestrian accidents are on roads without crosswalks.
A 2013 report in The Atlantic discussed data showing that pedestrians make up a rising share of people killed in traffic wrecks. Pedestrians represented 14 percent of traffic fatalities in 2011. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one pedestrian dies in a traffic wreck roughly every two hours, and one is injured in an auto collision every eight minutes.
Last year, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced a campaign to raise awareness of pedestrian safety. Now that the issue is getting national attention, traffic policy advocates are hopeful that communities like Richmond will take steps to reduce deaths and injuries involving pedestrians