‘Pedestrians don’t win in crashes’: Prince William Co. police hope to quell deadly crashes

Three deadly crashes involving pedestrians in the first two months of 2024 have prompted Prince William County, Virginia, police to remind walkers and drivers to more safely coexist.

“Pedestrians don’t win in crashes,” said Lt. Jonathan Perok, with Prince William County police.

In January and February, county police investigated 17 pedestrian-related crashes — three of them were deadly.

“Our numbers right now are significantly higher than what we’ve seen in the past four years,” Perok said. “In 2022, we had a historic number of 11 fatal pedestrian crashes, and we certainly don’t want to reach that milestone this year.”

In an analysis of 2023 data, Perok said there was a concentration of crashes “in the more densely populated areas that mirror traditional rush hour times in the morning and in the evening.”

Perok said there was a “considerable concentration” of crashes in busy corridors — Route 1, Richmond Highway, Sudley Road and Old Bridge Road.

“It’s hard to explain why they’re occurring because they’re often and every single one of them is preventable,” Perok said.

While pedestrians being distracted by smartphone activity has been a problem for years, Perok said improving technology is exacerbating the problem.

“Headphone technology is becoming much more advanced,” Perok said. “Headphones now offer the ability to block out sounds,” and a person wearing noise canceling headphones may be unable to hear oncoming traffic or horns.

Police suggest pedestrians and drivers follow similar safe practices 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.
  • For pedestrians specifically, dressing to be seen and keeping out of the roadway unless legally crossing in a designated area, such as a crosswalk.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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