Putting a tragic face on newly released federal statistics that show pedestrian fatalities have increased significantly over the past several years, a 15-year-old died December 19, 2014, after getting struck by a hit-and-run driver on Rest Church Road in the Clearwater area of Frederick County, Virginia (VA). Witnesses identified the suspect's vehicle as a Volkswagen Beetle manufactured within the last decade. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the at-fault driver is being asked to call the Virginia State Police Area 13 Office at (540) 662-3313 or the Virginia State Police Dispatch Center at (540) 829-7771.
The deadly accident occurred at around 7 am, while the teenager was heading to school. Eighteen days earlier, the Frederick County town of Gore witnessed another fatal pedestrian crash involving a senior citizen out for a walk in which the driver responsible fled the scene. Law enforcement officials did bring that other driver into custody, but both wrecks illustrate a disturbing trend. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, some 4,400 individuals walking along or across roads lost their lives in crashes during 2012, the last year for which complete data are available. That grisly total increased 15 percent from 2009.
My Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney colleagues and I have written often about how pedestrians, cars, trucks and buses can share the road safely. That advice proves useless if one or both parties ignore the rules concerning following traffic signals, keeping a look out for dangers and yielding right of way in crosswalks. Even one person getting injured or killed in an avoidable pedestrian accident is one too many. More than 4,000 individuals dying in such crashes represents something close to an epidemic that must be addressed.