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Natatia Bledsoe is the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.

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Stay alert! You never know who you might run into.

Fredericksburg is a great city for walking.  There are beautiful neighborhoods with tree-lined sidewalks, lots of parks and trails, the university campus, and all of downtown for pedestrians to get outside and enjoy the weather and the scenery. 

But mixing traffic with pedestrians is dangerous, which is why parents teach children to look both ways before crossing the street!   There are many locations in the city where walkers and joggers are frequently crossing busy roadways, including College Avenue and William Street around UMW and nearly all of Princess Anne and Caroline Streets from the library to the train station. 

The new Heritage Trail, with its looped connection to the canal path, has four crossings that present opportunities for vehicle vs. pedestrian misfortune:  Fall Hill Avenue near Normandy Avenue, Caroline Street at Old Mill Park, the 1800 block of Princess Anne Street, and Washington Avenue at the canal.    

According to statistics compiled by the Virginia Highway Safety Office, in 2012 there were 1862 crashes involving pedestrians and motor vehicles, with 98 of those crashes resulting in pedestrian fatalities.  Both drivers and pedestrians must share the responsibility to reduce the incidents of pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents.

The code section (§ 46.2-924) states that drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing the street “at any clearly marked crosswalk”; however the code also states “No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.” 

In other words, if you are already in the crosswalk, then drivers must by law slow down or stop and yield the right-of-way.  But drivers are not required to yield if you are standing on the sidewalk preparing to enter the crosswalk.

Best advice for pedestrians:  Look left, look right, then look left again before crossing the street and do not cross unless you can safely do so.  Do not step out on the roadway or into the crosswalk and expect oncoming traffic to stop!  The driver may be distracted or may not see you until it is too late.

Best advice for drivers:  Pay careful attention when you are approaching a crosswalk or when driving in an area with foot traffic and be aware that pedestrians may be preoccupied by a cell phone or other diversion.   Be prepared to slow down or stop to avoid a collision.

For drivers and pedestrians:

Stay alert!  You never know who you might run into.

 

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/citypolice/2013/08/30/stay-alert-you-never-know-who-you-might-run-into/

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