HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A number is rising in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but it’s not a number anyone is happy about.
The American Automobile Association says there has been a sharp increase in fatal pedestrian crashes in the commonwealth over the past five years.
In 2019, data shows 124 people were killed while walking or crossing the street. But five years ago, AAA says the average death toll was between 70-80 killed per year.
“We kind of thought that when it peaked from 2015 to 2016 that it was going to be a fluke year,” Haley Glynn, AAA Traffic Safety Specialist, told 8News, a sister station on News Channel 11.
Instead, pedestrian crashes are on the rise. Unfortunately, Glynn says these incidents with pedestrians can happen anywhere, at anytime, and to anyone.
“Whether they are in a parking lot, whether they are crossing the street, or in their own neighborhoods,” she explained.
Another startling statistic, according to AAA, points to a 95 percent increase in senior pedestrian deaths in Virginia. Those numbers reveal that 37 pedestrians 65 and older were killed in 2019.
In 2018, however, AAA data shows just 19 senior citizens were killed in pedestrian crashes.
Henrico County landed second on the list for deadliest senior pedestrian incidents in Virginia. Fairfax County and Arlington County in Northern Virginia were first and third on the list respectively.
“It might be because of things like frailty or bone loss and density so they may be more likely to sustain a serious or fatal injury in these pedestrian strike crashes,” said Glynn.
Regardless of the location, AAA wants all drivers and pedestrians to get home safely. Glynn says they cannot pinpoint one exact cause for the uptick in fatalities, instead attributing the safety concerns to a number of issues.
“There are so many different things vying for a driver’s attention,” said Glynn. “Whether it’s the pedestrian not crossing at an intersection, or the driver not being focused on the road, that could be causing these crashes.”