Safe Walking in the Commonwealth: An Analysis of the Issues and Proposed Clarifications of the Code of Virginia

Report No: 96-R13

Published in 1995

About the report:

Public interest in measures to make walking a safer form of personal conveyance manifests itself every several years in Virginia's General Assembly. Since 1981, the Virginia Transportation Research Council has conducted at least six studies regarding pedestrian safety, and two dealt specifically with legal issues. None of them, however, led to changes to the Code of Virginia (the Code). This study of pedestrian legislation and traffic safety was undertaken at the request of the Commissioner of Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles in response to concerns expressed to him by state and local government officials. The authors reviewed the relevant literature, analyzed Virginia's pedestrian crash data, examined and critiqued Virginia's Code and those of other states with regard to pedestrian issues, reviewed the Uniform Vehicle Code, and surveyed the departments of education of all states to ascertain their efforts with regard to pedestrian safety education. The study showed that a significant number of pedestrians continue to be killed and injured in Virginia and that many of these cases can be related to specific vehicle and pedestrian actions as well as the age of the victim. Annually, 10 to 12 percent of motor vehicle crash fatalities are pedestrians, an average of about 105 per year. The analysis of the Code revealed that particular sections are either confusing or ambiguous concerning the actions required by or prohibited to motorists, pedestrians, or both. The survey revealed that Virginia was doing about as well as other states in educating its public schoolchildren concerning pedestrian safety. The authors recommend that Virginia revise its crash report form, modify and add to the pedestrian statutes in the Code, and institute public education and enforcement campaigns to address pedestrian safety issues. A separate document details the recommended additions and deletions to the Code in legislative format and is available upon request from the authors.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Charles B. Stoke, Andrea M. Sullivan

Last updated: December 17, 2023

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