Crossing our busy streets and highways safely is a priority in Fairfax County, for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. A tragic accident at Route 50 and Annandale Road in the early hours of Monday morning highlights once again the dangerous situations that confront drivers and pedestrians every day. Sadly, many of these dangers could be avoided by taking some personal precautions and simply obeying the law.
Monday’s accident happened at 5:15 a.m. It was dark, the bicycle had no visible lights or reflectors and, although in the crosswalk, the cyclist was crossing against the signal, right into the path of a police officer on his way to work in his personal vehicle. The light was green for the officer; a fire department vehicle just happened to be waiting for the light to change, and the firefighters saw the horrific event unfold right in front of them. They responded immediately and transported the victim, a Westlawn resident, to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Following normal procedures, the Fairfax County Police Department’s Crash Reconstruction Unit and Internal Affairs Bureau have started investigations.
How could this, and other accidents, have been avoided? First of all, we need to remember that traffic lights, pedestrian signals, crosswalks and other regulatory signs are there to control traffic and provide safe crossings for drivers and pedestrians. Red, yellow, and green lights are not just for drivers; they’re for everybody. Secondly, we need to take responsibility for our personal behavior. How often do you see people, sometimes with toddlers or infants in strollers, trying to cross in the middle of the block? How often have you tried to cross in the middle of the block, or outside of a crosswalk? If there are no sidewalks, do you walk on the side facing the traffic? Do you wear light or reflective clothing when walking or jogging at dawn or dusk? Or in the rain? As a driver, can you react quickly to avoid pedestrians who are not paying attention to traffic around them?
We all need to slow down and remember what we learned as children: Stop. Look both ways. Listen. Cross at the crosswalk. Wear white at night. Slow down. Getting to your destination is important, but getting there alive is more important. If this sounds a little preachy, it is. To date, 54 people have been killed in crashes on Fair-fax County roadways, including 12 pedestrians and 8 motorcyclists. Last year at this time, 44 people had been killed. The numbers are not going in the right direction!
Please don’t be another statistic.