How Does Tourism Impact Pedestrian Accidents in Virginia Beach?

Virginia Beach, renowned for its sprawling sandy beaches, vibrant boardwalk, and thriving tourism industry, is a magnet for visitors from across the globe. This influx of tourists, while beneficial to the local economy, presents unique challenges, particularly concerning pedestrian safety. As the number of visitors increases, so does the potential for pedestrian accidents. Understanding the dynamics of this relationship is crucial for implementing effective safety measures. If you sustained injuries in an accident due to driver negligence, contact an experienced Virginia Beach pedestrian accident lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free consultation. 

The Surge of Tourists and Its Implications

During peak tourist seasons, Virginia Beach’s population swells significantly. The city’s infrastructure, designed to handle a moderate resident population, often strains under the weight of the influx. Tourists, unfamiliar with local traffic patterns and rules, contribute to a higher incidence of pedestrian accidents. These visitors might be more focused on sightseeing and less aware of their surroundings, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Contributing Factors to Pedestrian Accidents

Several factors contribute to the rise in pedestrian accidents in Virginia Beach during tourist seasons:

  • Increased Foot Traffic: With more people walking around attractions, beaches, and shopping areas, the chances of vehicle accidents rise. The boardwalk and oceanfront areas, particularly, see a significant increase in foot traffic.
  • Distracted Walking: Tourists are often engrossed in their surroundings, taking photos or using their phones for navigation, which can lead to inattentiveness. Distracted walking is a growing concern, similar to distracted driving, and it increases the risk of accidents.
  • Unfamiliarity with Local Traffic Laws: Many tourists come from regions with different traffic laws and norms. This unfamiliarity can lead to unsafe crossing practices and misunderstandings of right-of-way rules.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Virginia Beach is known for its nightlife, and many visitors indulge in alcoholic beverages. Alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, leading to a higher risk of accidents both for drivers and pedestrians.
  • Seasonal Workers: The influx of seasonal workers to support the tourism industry can also contribute to pedestrian accidents. These workers, often new to the area, might be less aware of the safest routes and crossing points.

Statistical Insights

Data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reveals a clear trend: pedestrian accidents peak during the summer months when tourism is at its highest. Over the past decade, Virginia Beach has consistently reported more pedestrian accidents between June and August than in other months. This correlation underscores the impact of tourism on resident safety.

Measures to Mitigate Pedestrian Accidents

Addressing the issue of pedestrian accidents in Virginia Beach requires a multifaceted approach, involving infrastructure improvements, public awareness campaigns, and enhanced law enforcement.

  • Infrastructure Enhancements: Upgrading pedestrian crossings with better signage, lighting, and signals can significantly reduce accidents. The city has already started implementing some of these measures, such as installing more visible crosswalks and pedestrian countdown timers.
  • Pedestrian Zones: Creating pedestrian-only zones, particularly in high-traffic tourist areas like the boardwalk, can reduce the interaction between vehicles and pedestrians. These zones encourage walking while ensuring safety.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Educating tourists about local traffic laws and safe pedestrian practices is essential. Hotels, rental agencies, and tourist information centers can distribute brochures and maps highlighting safe crossing points and pedestrian rules.
  • Enhanced Law Enforcement: Increasing the presence of traffic officers during peak tourist seasons can deter unsafe driving and walking behaviors. Officers can also assist in directing traffic and ensuring that both drivers and pedestrians adhere to safety regulations.
  • Alcohol Control Measures: Implementing stricter regulations on alcohol sales and consumption in tourist areas can help reduce alcohol-related accidents. Initiatives like designated driver programs and increased sobriety checkpoints are effective strategies.

Community Involvement

Local community involvement is crucial in addressing pedestrian safety. Residents can participate in public meetings and forums to voice their concerns and suggest improvements. Community groups can also collaborate with city officials to develop and implement safety programs.

Tourism is a double-edged sword for Virginia Beach. While it brings economic benefits and cultural vibrancy, it also poses significant challenges, particularly in terms of pedestrian safety. The city’s ability to adapt to the influx of tourists and implement effective safety measures will determine how well it can protect both its residents and visitors. By focusing on infrastructure improvements, public awareness, and law enforcement, Virginia Beach can continue to be a safe and welcoming destination for everyone.

What Causes Pedestrian Accidents in Virginia Beach?

Understanding the underlying causes of these accidents is crucial for developing effective preventive measures. Several factors contribute to pedestrian accidents in Virginia Beach. These factors are often interrelated, creating a multifaceted challenge for city planners and safety officials.


Virginia Beach attracts millions of visitors each year, particularly during the summer months. Popular areas such as the oceanfront, boardwalk, and shopping districts experience heavy pedestrian traffic. The sheer volume of people walking in these areas increases the likelihood of pedestrian-vehicle interactions, which can lead to accidents.


In today’s digital age, distracted driving and walking are growing concerns. Tourists and locals often drive and walk while using their phones for navigation, texting, or taking photos. This distraction reduces their awareness of their surroundings, making them more susceptible to accidents.


Tourists visiting Virginia Beach may not be familiar with local traffic regulations and pedestrian norms. This unfamiliarity can lead to unsafe crossing practices, such as jaywalking or misunderstanding right-of-way rules, increasing the risk of accidents.


Virginia Beach is known for its lively nightlife, which often involves alcohol consumption. Intoxicated pedestrians and drivers pose a significant risk as alcohol impairs judgment and coordination. This impairment can lead to dangerous situations on the road.


Certain areas of Virginia Beach may lack adequate infrastructure, such as well-marked crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and proper lighting. Insufficient infrastructure can make it difficult for pedestrians to navigate safely, especially in high-traffic areas.


Reckless driving and speeding are significant contributors to accidents. Drivers who engage in aggressive driving behaviors or exceed speed limits greatly reduce their ability to react in time to avoid pedestrian accidents. 


Virginia Beach’s tourism industry relies on seasonal workers who may be new to the area and unfamiliar with the safest routes and crossing points. Their lack of local knowledge can contribute to unsafe pedestrian behavior.

Statistical Insights

According to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, accidents involving Virginia Beach pedestrians show a noticeable spike during peak tourist seasons, particularly in the summer months. This trend highlights the significant impact of tourism on pedestrian safety in the area.

Mitigation Strategies

Addressing the causes of pedestrian accidents in Virginia Beach requires a comprehensive approach that includes infrastructure improvements, public education, and enhanced law enforcement.


Investing in better pedestrian infrastructure is essential. This includes installing more visible crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and adequate lighting in high-traffic areas. Creating pedestrian-only zones in tourist hotspots can also help reduce the risk of accidents.


Educating both tourists and locals about the safety of pedestrians is crucial. Public awareness campaigns can be conducted through various channels, including social media, local media, and information centers. These campaigns should focus on safe crossing practices, the dangers of distracted walking, and the importance of following traffic laws.


Increasing the presence of law enforcement officers, especially during peak tourist seasons, can deter unsafe behaviors such as speeding, reckless driving, and jaywalking. Law enforcement can also help guide walkers and manage traffic in busy areas.


Implementing stricter regulations on alcohol sales and consumption in tourist areas can help reduce alcohol-related accidents. Initiatives such as designated driver programs and increased sobriety checkpoints are effective strategies.


Engaging the local community in pedestrian safety initiatives is vital. Residents can participate in public meetings and forums to share their concerns and suggestions. Community groups can work with city officials to develop and implement safety programs tailored to the specific needs of Virginia Beach.

Talk to a Virginia Beach Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Pedestrian accidents in Virginia Beach are influenced by a complex interplay of factors, including high foot traffic, distracted walking, unfamiliarity with local traffic laws, and more. By understanding these causes and implementing targeted mitigation strategies, Virginia Beach can enhance pedestrian safety and ensure a safer environment for both residents and visitors.

Enlisting the services of an experienced Virginia Beach personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp is crucial for securing a favorable outcome in a pedestrian accident case. Our thorough and strategic approach to case preparation has allowed us to obtain significant compensation for our clients and their families, such as a recent $227,000 settlement for a pedestrian hit in a Virginia Beach crosswalk. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident due to a negligent driver, contact us at (833) 997-1774 or fill out the contact form on our website to arrange a free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, and Portsmouth.