Be Aware...Share The Road, Save A Life
Think about this: Just last year . . . . 81 people died walking or riding their bicycles on Virginia roadways. In addition, 730 cyclists and 1,712 pedestrians were injured. A single death or injury is one too many. Increasing your knowledge of roadway regulations and safe behaviors can help reduce those numbers.
DRIVE SMART Virginia and Bike Virginia are working with businesses, schools, state employees and others to create partnerships that will encourage mutual respect on roads in the Commonwealth. Further, we want residents to Be Aware . . . Share The Road, Save A Life.
It’s important to avoid unsafe behaviors like distracted driving, or anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road. “A distracted driver is one of the most dangerous obstacles a bicyclist or someone running or walking may face. And many of us are distracted when we’re driving,” said Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia.
A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that 80% of traffic crashes occurred within 3 seconds of a distracted driving event. “Distracted drivers are one of the biggest dangers to bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia. “Driving distraction free means hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times.” It also means avoiding the urge to eat or drink while driving, or other distracting behaviors like grooming. Texting and driving is one of the worst distractions for a driver.
Motorists should also give bicyclists plenty of room when passing. “In Virginia, it’s a good idea to give at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist. Drivers should slow down and wait to pass if there’s oncoming traffic,” said Kim Perry, Executive Director of Bike Virginia. “Bicyclists must also know and obey all traffic laws,” Perry said.
Bicyclists and pedestrians also have important responsibilities on the roadway. Bicyclists should always ride with traffic. Cyclists should wear bright colored or reflective clothing, blinking lights and always obey traffic laws. Pedestrians should move against traffic and also wear reflective clothing so they’re easier to see. People should walk or run on the sidewalk or the extreme edge of the road.
Here are some basic tips that help make roadways safer for all users.
- Allow a safety cushion. Slow down, wait until the roadway is safe for passing cyclists and walkers, and pass with at least 3 feet of clearance.
- Yield right of way to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks. Remember vehicle extensions. A side mirror or trailer can be deadly for people walking or biking.
- Understand that the smallest bump to a cyclist or pedestrian can be fatal. Minimize your distractions. Distracted drivers are more likely to hit bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Do not assume ill intent and become frustrated by bicyclists or people walking or running.
You can find more information at the DriveSmartVA web site at:
Laws and responsibilities are designed to keep everyone moving about smoothly and safely. Here are some of the basic facts:
1. Motorists are required by law to approach and pass bicyclists at a reasonable speed and allow at least two feet between your vehicle and the cyclist. Three feet of safety cushion is even better.
2. A bicycle is considered a vehicle in Virginia and has the same duties and rights as cars on the road, including obeying all traffic signs, signals, lights and markings. A bicycle should always travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic. Cyclists are not permitted to ride on interstates or other controlled access roadways.
3. Motorists are required to use signals to notify other roadway users of intent and cyclists must do the same using hand signals. Behaving in a predictable manner while driving, biking, or walking can reduce the risk of crashes.
4. Cyclists can also protect themselves by wearing a helmet, bright clothing, using flashing lights during day and night, and securing loose pant legs or other loose clothing
5. Pedestrians can improve safety by wearing bright colors during the day and reflective material or blinking lights at night. Light colored clothing is slightly helpful in making you visible at night, reflective tape or reflective fabric is much better.
6. All road users should be aware of their surroundings, including paying special attention to blind spots where other roadway users may be hidden. Be aware of “inattention blindness,” and use extra caution when road changes are present and in entrances and exits.
7. Pedestrians must travel against traffic when walking in the road, use sidewalks whenever available, and use marked crossings whenever possible. Motorists and cyclists must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, both marked and unmarked, when making a right turn on red, or as instructed by law enforcement or traffic control devices.
8. Local ordinance determines use of sidewalks by bicycles and other alternative devices. When permitted to be on sidewalks, bicycles should yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.
Help make the road safe for everyone.
Remember, “Be Aware . . . . Share the Road, Save a Life.”