Urging pedestrian safety as days get shorter

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- When the clocks fall back this weekend, it will get darker earlier, and drivers and pedestrians are urged to use extra caution.

The Virginia Governor's Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety says the time change often results in an increase in the number of pedestrians who are hit by vehicles.

According to a release, 25 percent of annual pedestrian fatalities on Virginia's roads in the last five years have occurred during the months of November and December when daylight hours become shorter.

The team says Virginia is already experiencing a significant increase in the deaths of pedestrians 51 years old or older.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles says, according to its preliminary data, 50 pedestrians in that age group were killed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1 of this year, compared to 26 in 2018.

Of those fatalities, 16 were over the age of 70, compared to seven in that age group last year.

Governor Ralph Northam began pushing for pedestrian safety in April when he called attention to a decade-high number of pedestrian fatalities in 2018.

His Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety is made up of representatives from the DMV, the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Virginia State Police.

“Last year, 123 pedestrians were killed on Virginia's roadways, which was the highest number of pedestrian fatalities reporting in the past ten years. Tragically, we are on pave for an equally high number of deaths against this year,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “With the help of motorists and pedestrians working together, there's still time to reverse course.”

“We need everyone's help to ensure we do not have to report yet another increase in pedestrian fatalities on our roadways this year,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Even one fatality is too many, particularly as we strive to achieve zero crash fatalities in Virginia. It may seem like an impossible goal, but it's one that drives closer to the horizon with all Virginians on board.”

The Virginia Highway Safety Office, which is studying pedestrian fatalities, found crashes that result in a pedestrian fatality frequently involve a person crossing a street but not using a crosswalk. The number of these fatalities is on the rise this year.

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