Prince William County Police Sound Alarm on Pedestrian-Related Crashes

Prince William County Police Sound Alarm on Pedestrian-Related Crashes

Like the rest of the nation, Prince William County has seen a rise in traffic accidents causing injury or death since 2021. Unfortunately, as outlined in a recent Prince William County Police Department release, that trend continues, along with a sharp increase in pedestrian-related crashes. This year alone, police have investigated 17 pedestrian-related crashes, three of which were fatal. (The full release of the “Police Sound Alarm” is shown below.)

Back in 2022, I held a Traffic Safety Town Hall and also requested a Traffic Safety Work Session in 2022, which together county and state-level transportation and public safety professionals to brief the board on the “Three E’s” of traffic safety: Education, Enforcement, and Engineering, ensuring we take a holistic view to this complex issue with overlapping causes, with human behavior as a leading factor. 

From these conversations, we’ve raised awareness of dangerous driving behaviors and were better positioned to pursue new safety initiatives, such as the just-launched photo enforcement pilot program and securing a $992,000 “Safe Streets & Roads” grant to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety. I remain committed to closing gaps in our pedestrian network and ensuring that any new development features pedestrian connectivity through more compact, walkable communities. Additionally, my staff and I meet with our transportation team monthly to review traffic calming and safety priorities and work with residents to address safety concerns through appropriate traffic calming measures.

The development patterns and driving habits that contribute to these tragedies did not develop overnight; addressing them will take a concerted and collective effort over time.  I am committed to that effort and look forward to further collaboration with my Board colleagues, county staff, community members, and the development community to reorient Prince William County to be a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike.

Police Sound Alarm on Pedestrian-Related Crashes

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The Prince William County Police Department is sounding the alarm over the increase in pedestrian-related crashes in 2024. For several years, the police department has issued news releases and conducted numerous social media campaigns to educate both drivers and pedestrians about safe practices on our roadways. Despite these efforts, pedestrian-related crashes have continued to be a concern. From January 1 to February 29, 2024, the police department investigated 17 pedestrian-related crashes, three of which were fatal. The total number of pedestrian-related crashes in 2024 is 55% higher than those seen year-to-date in both 2023 and 2022 and close to if not more than double seen in 2021 and 2020. In 2024, pedestrian-related crashes have shown to occur more in the morning, during the 6 a.m. hour, and the evening between the 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. hours. During the week, Thursdays have seen the highest number of pedestrian-related crashes.

Over the last five years, between 2019 and 2023, there were close to 22,000 reportable crashes along roadways in Prince William County. While pedestrian-related crashes overall accounted for only approximately 1.6% of total crashes during that timeframe, crashes resulting in a death and, specifically those amongst pedestrians, were about one in three, or 30% of total fatalities. Pedestrians are more likely to sustain some variation of an injury, from minor to severe, when involved in a collision with a vehicle.

In 2023, there were 87 pedestrian-related crashes in Prince William County, up 10.1% from 79 in 2022. While fatal pedestrian-related crashes fell 45.5% from a historic high of 11 in 2022 to 6 in 2023, the police department has investigated two fatal pedestrian crashes so far in 2024, both attributing to actions of the pedestrian as the cause. Overall, in 2023, the height of pedestrian crashes occurred in the fourth quarter of the year, totaling 28 or about 32.2%. The highest number occurred in October at 15, followed by May totaling 11. During the average week, Thursday and Friday saw the biggest spike in pedestrian crashes in 2023, at 19 and 17 respectively, followed closely by Tuesday at 15. These three days accounted for about 58.6% of all pedestrian crashes for the year. Approximately 41.2% of pedestrian crashes in 2023, totaling 36, occurred between the 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. hours with an additional 16 occurring between the 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. hours alone.

The police department is urging both drivers and pedestrians to follow traffic laws and best practices to avoid meeting, if not exceeding, the number of pedestrian-related crashes this year. The number of pedestrian-related crashes in 2023 showed a considerable concentration in densely populated areas and along busy corridors, such as Richmond Highway, Old Bridge Road, and Sudley Road, where best practices are especially needed.

Both drivers and pedestrians can follow similar safe practices to reduce crashes by:

  • Following all traffic laws,
  • Planning time and a route ahead of leaving your home,
  • Obeying all posted signs and signals,
  • Limiting phone and other distractions,
  • Avoiding impairments such as alcohol and drugs, and
  • For pedestrians specifically, dressing to be seen, and
  • Keeping out of the roadway unless legally crossing in a designated area such as a crosswalk.

There is no license required to be a pedestrian. We are all pedestrians, and it is incumbent upon each person to know the law, follow the rules of the road, and use best practices to navigate safely.

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