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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Monday, May 19, 2014
Media Contact: Sunni Brown
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

DMV Urges Caution for Pedestrians and Drivers this Spring and Summer
Distracted or Impaired Walking and Driving Can be Deadly

RICHMOND - The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reminding Virginians to avoid dangers commonly associated with the Memorial Day holiday, the unofficial start to summer. With warmer weather emerges people out and about walking, and more drivers are on the roads as the summer travel season begins.

Pedestrians are urged to take measures to stay safe. Statistics from Virginia's Highway Safety Office show 78 pedestrian fatalities in 2013. Nine were in Norfolk, eight in Fairfax County, and six each in Henrico and Prince William counties.

"Statistics show the majority of pedestrian fatalities are happening in urban areas where there is a lot of foot traffic every day, but we are encouraging people everywhere to be safe," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, Governor McAuliffe's highway safety representative. "These types of incidents can happen just as easily in rural areas where crosswalks may not be as readily available and there is less street lighting."

Visibility is a key component in pedestrian safety. Just because you can see a driver doesn't mean that they see you. DMV urges pedestrians to walk against traffic, wear proper, reflective clothing, and use crosswalks. When possible, make eye contact with drivers to make sure they notice you. Also, don't walk impaired or distracted. Talking on the phone, texting, and listening to music while walking can make it harder for a person to pay attention to what is going on around them. In addition, a person who has been drinking may not be aware of surroundings and may walk in front of traffic. Twenty-eight percent of the pedestrian fatalities in 2013 were attributed to the pedestrian drinking.

DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO) reminds Virginians to designate a sober driver and rest before Memorial Day celebrations begin. "To prevent a tragedy from occurring this Memorial Day holiday, do not drive after drinking any alcohol, period," said Holcomb. "Even one drink can adversely affect a driver's reaction time and his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle. With the added traffic during the summer months, be sure to designate a sober driver before heading to your cook-out or Memorial Day celebration."

Being sleepy affects your ability to drive safely. Drowsiness makes drivers less attentive, slows reaction time and affects a driver's ability to make decisions. The warning signs of drowsy driving include yawning or blinking frequently, difficulty remembering the past few miles driven, missing your exit, and drifting from your lane and hitting a rumble strip. "Get a good night's sleep, eight to nine hours for adults and nine to ten hours for adolescents, and set out on the road when you are feeling fresh," Holcomb recommended.

During the 2013 Memorial Day holiday period (May 24-27, 2013), there were 1,143 crashes and nine fatalities in Virginia. Four of those fatalities were alcohol-related, and four were speed-related.

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