Despite efforts by several agencies within the Washington, D.C. area, pedestrian fatalities in the region remained relatively unchanged in 2016 compared to 2015, according to preliminary data from 10 of the region’s top police departments.
At least 61 people were killed in pedestrian-related vehicle accidents in the capital region in 2016, which is just one death greater than the number of pedestrian deaths in 2015.
Additional findings from the report show that:
- Most deadly pedestrian-involved accidents occurred on highways with speed limits of 35 mph and higher.
- The deadliest area highway was Route 1, where seven pedestrians were killed between Lorton, Virginia, and southern Laurel, Maryland.
- The median age of those killed in pedestrian accidents was 54 years old.
- Four out of five pedestrians killed were men.
In Washington, D.C., pedestrian deaths fell by nearly half in 2016 compared to 2015. According to District police, eight pedestrians were killed last year compared to 15 in 2015. Most deaths occurred in Northwest D.C. and all occurred on major roads, such as New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Georgia and New York avenues.
In 2015, the District launched an ambitious Vision Zero campaign aimed at ending all pedestrian fatalities by 2024 by using more effective engineering, education and enforcement.
For the first half of 2016, Maryland saw a 13 percent decrease in pedestrian deaths from 2015 to 2016 with 45 deaths in 2015 compared to 39 reported in 2016.
The Montgomery County Police Department reported eight pedestrian deaths in 2016, which is a decrease from 12 in 2015.
In Prince George’s County, police investigated 16 deadly pedestrian accidents in 2016. In response to two deaths occurring in the same location on Central Avenue in Capitol Heights on separate occasions, the Maryland State Highway Administration will be installing new “full-color” traffic signals at the deadly intersection.
Another intersection, located on Suitland Park at Naylor Road, also experienced two back-to-back pedestrian deaths in July and August.
There were no deaths along Route 1 in College Park, likely thanks to a series of improvements made to the area by the Maryland Highway Administration in 2014 for improved pedestrian safety.
In Virginia, state police reported a 35 percent increase in pedestrian deaths from 2015 to 2016 with 37 deaths in 2015 and 50 in 2016. Fairfax County police investigated 12 fatal pedestrian accidents in 2016, including three that occurred on interstate highways.
In a 2016 Street Smart traffic safety initiative several locations along Route 1 were identified by the Fairfax County Police Department as some of the most dangerous locations in Fairfax County for pedestrians. Three deaths occurred on Route 1 last year.
National Pedestrian Deaths Spike
Nationally, a report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association estimates that pedestrian fatalities increased by 11 percent in 2016 compared to 2015 based on preliminary data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
This marks the largest single-year increase in pedestrian deaths in the 40 years that records have been kept.
It also indicates that pedestrian deaths are outpacing traffic deaths. Between 2010 and 2015, pedestrian deaths increased 25 percent compared to a six percent increase in traffic deaths.
The total number of estimated pedestrian deaths for last year is nearly 6,000. Overall, pedestrian deaths increased in 34 states and decreased in 15 states and the District.
Researchers noted that an improved economy, lower gas prices and more people walking likely contributed to the increase. However, walking and miles driven only increased a few percentage points, which likely cannot account for the significant increase in deaths.
Many believe the likely cause is that more drivers and pedestrians are distracted by smartphones and other electronic devices.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians and Motorists
With rising pedestrian deaths nationwide, it is more important than ever that everyone sharing the road does his or her part to ensure safety on the roads.
For pedestrians, this includes:
- Crossing the street only at marked crosswalks and intersections
- Obeying all traffic signals
- Looking in both directions for vehicles before crossing a street
- Watching for vehicles
- Putting away any distractions and focusing on your surroundings
- Always walking on the sidewalk or on the shoulder of the road facing traffic if there is no sidewalk
- Wearing light, bright colored clothing for improved visibility
- Put away any distractions and remain alert and looking for pedestrians at all times
- Follow the speed limit and obey all traffic rules and signals
- Always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Dedicated Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Most pedestrian accidents are the result of negligence and could have been avoided. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, you may have legal options and may be entitled to compensation.
Contact the experienced auto accident lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more about your options after an accident. We work on a contingency fee basis and do not charge any fees unless we recover compensation for you.