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Pedestrian Deaths Have Authorities on Alert, Stressing Safety Tips

With high-profile fatalities — 22 since 2010 — Prince William County Police officials are reminding drivers and pedestrians about safety.

Pedestrian fatalities have authorities on alert. Patch file photo
Pedestrian fatalities have authorities on alert. Patch file photo
by Keith Walker, Prince William County Government

Since 2010, 22 pedestrians have been killed in auto accidents in Prince William County. The majority of those who died failed to use a crosswalk and wore dark clothing. Of those deaths, 12 involved the use of alcohol by the pedestrian or driver.

Prince William Police Officer Kevin Neiswonger, of the department’s Crash Investigative Unit, said the department tries to make people aware of the hazards of walking along roadways.

“We’ve seen a number of pedestrian-related motor collisions; and what we’re trying to do is to educate the public about these alarming numbers so they can be safe along the roadways in the commonwealth and in the County," he said. "We also want to make sure that we can reduce these numbers in the future."

Pedestrians can do a number of things to try and be safe as they walk, said Neiswonger. 

When people cross the road, they need use both the crosswalk and the crossing signals at any of these major intersections, he said. 

Virginia law also requires that people follow rules designed to minimize the dangers pedestrians face. 

“They also have to make sure that they’re walking on the appropriate side of the roadway,” Neiswonger said. “In Virginia, you’re required to walk against vehicular traffic. That way, the pedestrian can see the traffic that’s coming toward them, so if they have to make some kind of evasive maneuver to avoid that vehicle from striking them they can.” 

Walking at night presents its own set of dangers, Neiswonger said.

“If they’re walking at night, it’s best to wear some kind of reflective clothing and also to make sure that they don’t try to cross the street in an area where the driver maybe can’t see them.” 

For more information on pedestrian safety, people can visit the Police Department’s website or the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website.

The Department of Motor Vehicles reminds people that dusk and dawn are the most dangerous times to cross roadways and to remember to look left and right and left again before crossing the road. The Department’s website also shows that drinking and walking can be as dangerous as drinking and driving. 

A person who has been drinking may be less aware of their surroundings and could walk in front of traffic.

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