Pedestrian safety message launches for region

‘Commonsense precautions’ urged to protect motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists

As vehicle crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists continue to occur with alarming frequency, law enforcement agencies in the Richmond region and other partners are urging travelers to take simple precautions and to avoid distractions, such as mobile phones and headphones.

A video public service announcement with tips for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists is being shared by the police departments or sheriff’s offices of Chesterfield County, Hanover County, Henrico County and the City of Richmond as well as by the Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Transportation.

The message, designed for social media platforms, was produced by Henrico County Public Relations, with versions in English and Spanish. While responsibility for specific crashes varies, authorities believe there are important safety reminders for all travelers.

“Vehicle crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists continue to cause serious injuries — even deaths — in the Richmond region,” the message says. “Take commonsense precautions to keep yourself — and others — safe, whether you’re traveling by car, bike or foot. Stay alert and avoid distractions, like mobile phones and headphones.”

The message encourages motorists to obey traffic laws, to slow down for pedestrians and bicyclists and, if passing, to leave at least 3 feet of space from the bicyclist’s left side.

For walkers and runners, the message encourages wearing bright or reflective clothing and staying in well-lit areas as well as using sidewalks and crosswalks or facing traffic to see vehicles that may be approaching.

The message urges bicyclists to follow the rules of the road, to use front and rear lights at night and to wear a helmet and bright or reflective clothing.

“People travel the region in many ways,” the message concludes. “Walking, running and bicycling are on the rise. When you’re out, be alert and do all you can to ensure that everyone gets where they need to go safely.”

Officials encourage local businesses, civic groups, individuals and others to share the public service announcement with friends, employees and others and on social media using the hashtag #PedestrianSafety.

In 2019, Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and Richmond combined to record 293 vehicle crashes involving pedestrians, with 23 fatalities, and 90 vehicle crashes involving bicyclists, with four fatalities, according to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. That compares with 296 crashes involving pedestrians, with 23 fatalities, and 105 crashes involving bicyclists, with three fatalities, in 2018.

Nationally, the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed in crashes with vehicles has increased in recent years as the overall number of fatalities from vehicle crashes has dropped, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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