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Update: STOP! New Virginia Drivers Law Takes Effect July 1

Law is meant to protect pedestrians by decreasing injuries and deaths from vehicle collisions

Pixabay photo by natura photos

ALEXANDRIA, VA – On Wednesday, July 1, a new law takes effect in Virginia requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians. Further, the driver may not move until the person walking in their lane has passed safely. When a driver has stopped, an approaching vehicle may not pass the stopped vehicle.

Other people using a road receive additional protection under the law. This includes but is not limited to wheelchairs users, skaters, and electric scooter riders. Drivers whose carelessness causes serious injury or death in such circumstances can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The Street Smart Campaign in DC has long advocated stopping for pedestrians and bikers. To the group, this law is a victory for all, as it makes safety a priority. Along with traffic and safety officials, they remind people to use caution this summer.

According to local law enforcement, a growing number of drivers are taking advantage of reduced traffic volumes to disregard speed limits.

Because of social distancing mandates, it is especially important for pedestrians and bicyclists to be aware of their surroundings. To help keep everyone safe, the Street Smart Campaign offers the following tips.

For Drivers

Obey speed limits, even when tempted to go faster because of fewer cars on the road.

  • Always come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs
  • Watch and stop for people crossing the street
  • Avoid using your cell phone, and never text while driving
  • Be alert for people who may occasionally step into the roadway as they attempt to maintain social distancing

For Pedestrians

  • Cross at the corner and use crosswalks when available
  • If you’re unable to use a sidewalk, keep close to the edge of the road and face traffic if possible. That way you can see cars coming
  • Use caution and double check for vehicles if you are stepping into the street for any reason
  • Avoid using your cell phone while you’re crossing the street
  • Remain alert to others around you—drivers, bicyclists, and other pedestrians

For Bicyclists

  • Obey signs and signals
  • Use hand signals to tell drivers what you intend to do
  • Wear a helmet

Stay safe and well this summer!

This article was updated on July 1, 11:30 p.m.

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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