Virginia Beach traffic officials have agreed to lower the speed limit along most of Shore Drive from the current 45 mph to 35 mph, the Virginian-Pilot reported on June 2, 2010. The move comes in response to pressure from family members of pedestrian recently killed while crossing Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), as well as residents of the housing and condominium communities that have proliferated along the primary surface road between northwest and northeast Virginia Beach.
Since 2002, ten people have lost their lives after being struck by cars or trucks on Shore Drive. The latest pedestrian fatality occurred when 25-year-old Norfolk school teacher Whitney Lynne Hulce attempted to cross the busy road after leaving a bar just north of West Great Neck Road at 1:30 am on April 19. It was the second deadly pedestrian accident on Shore Drive in a six-month period.
The incidents have prompted calls for more crosswalks and streetlights, as well, but the lowered speed limit will be the first and most-easily implemented change. The Pilot noted that Virginia Beach Deputy City Manager Dave Hansen estimated new speed limit signs will be in place between Pleasure House Road and West Great Neck by the end of June.
The 35 mph limit is significant because Virginia law requires drivers to give right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks on any public road with a posted speed limit of 35 or lower. Road officials had originally resisted the change, however, citing statistics showing that car and truck braking times change very little between the speeds of 35 mph and 45 mph. But, especially with the crosswalk law, it seems obvious that slowing down vehicles can only help protect pedestrians.
My colleagues have seen too many times how much damage cars and trucks can do to unprotected pedestrians. Even if just one more tragedy gets averted by the change in speed limits on Shore Drive, the move will be justified.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, whose attorneys work out of offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and Eastern Shore Virginia Injury Attorneys Blog as pro bono services.