Prince William County Police Officer Kevin Neiswonger said one of the biggest things motorists can do to avoid accidents with pedestrians is to pay attention on the road.
“Look around and keep your eyes moving, especially when driving through neighborhoods and intersections. You have to make sure that you know what’s going on around you,” Neiswonger said. “Expect the unexpected. Pedestrians can come from anywhere. They may not be paying attention, so be prepared to think about what you would do if a pedestrian walks into your path of travel.”
According to police reports, most of the pedestrian-related accidents occur at night, so that’s when motorists should use extra caution. “Be extra vigilant at night when low light conditions would make pedestrians harder to see. During the night is when we see a majority of these pedestrian-related collisions because people just can’t see pedestrians crossing the roadway.”
Neiswonger said obeying traffic signals would prevent many motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents. “These traffic signals are synced with the pedestrian crossing signals. If a pedestrian hits the button, and they’re crossing in one direction, it should give a red light to cross traffic.”
One situation where motorists should use caution is when they’re making a right turn. Many times motorists fail to notice people in crosswalks, Neiswonger said.
“People who are making right turns at an intersection need to be aware that if they’re making a right turn against a red light, they don’t necessarily have the right-of-way at that point. They have to make sure there’s no pedestrian trying to cross with the right-of-way signal,” Neiswonger said.
Since 2010, 22 pedestrians have been killed in auto accidents in Prince William County. The majority of those who died failed to use a crosswalk and wore dark clothing. Of those deaths, 12 involved the use of alcohol by the pedestrian or driver.