Pedestrians crashes on the rise in Henrico; why police say the drivers often aren’t at fault

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- So far this year there have been five traffic fatalities in Henrico County and three of those involved pedestrians, which is one of the reasons why police are highlighting the growing problem.

Right outside the McDonalds on West Broad Street near Libbie Place is a memorial to a 17-year-old who hit and killed here while crossing the street last August.

"The person had just got off work, and they had earbuds in their ears, and they were crossing mid-block at night time," Lt. Rob Netherland said.

The shrine highlights a growing problem in Henrico County and Central Virginia in general: an increasing number of pedestrians getting hit by cars.

"There is this misnomer that all pedestrians have the right of way and they only have certain right of ways at certain locations, you still can't cross the middle of the road right in front of somebody, the driver has protections as well," Netherland said.

Henrico police said that between 2017 and 2018, pedestrian involved crashes increased 33 percent, and the number of people injured in those crashes rose 37 percent.

Lt. Netherland said the pedestrian was "at fault" in at least 2/3's of the crashes.

In some instances, they wore dark clothing, or they had alcohol or drugs in their system, and frequently, they crossed where they shouldn't have crossed.

"We're seeing them occur in mid-block, so some of these roadways have speed limits of 45 MPH, and they're not crossing at intersections, and something that has a control device or a stop signal," Netherland said.

CBS 6 took a look for ourselves and watched person after person jaywalk across 6 lanes of traffic on West Broad Street near Willow Lawn.

Jasmin Sneed, who told us she walks a lot, said even she takes chances when crossing the street.

"All the time," Sneed said. "Especially near campus, it's just cross whenever."

In an attempt to turn the dangerous trend around, Netherland said Henrico is partnering with the state on road safety improvements.

"VDOT has a big comprehensive project that they're going to be doing, especially along the Broad Street corridor where they are going to be putting in more crosswalks and more pedestrian friendly crossing signals," Netherland said.

Last summer the Virginia Department of Transportation announced it would spend nearly $2 million in an effort to increase pedestrian safety at 11 busy intersections in Henrico and Chesterfield counties.

The project includes improvements to the following Henrico intersections:

West Broad St. and Pouncey Tract Rd./Pump Rd. (Rt. 271)
Patterson Ave. (Rt. 6) and Gaskins Rd. (Rt. 157)
Gaskins Rd. (Rt. 157) and Gayton Rd.
Gaskins Rd. (Rt. 157) and Quioccasin Rd.
Quioccasin Rd. (Rt. 157) and Pemberton Rd.
Lakeside Ave. (Rt. 161) and Hilliard Rd. (Rte. 356)
West Broad St. (Rt. 250) and North Gayton Rd.
Mechanicsville Turnpike (Rt. 360) and Laburnum Ave. (Rt. 197)

“Once complete, these improvements will enhance pedestrian safety at several busy intersections, especially for those with visual impairments,” Robert Vilak, VDOT Richmond District traffic engineer, said in a 2018 interview.

Work on the project was expected to be completed in spring 2019.

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