2018 Traffic Safety Review – Preventable Deaths on Virginia Roads

Traffic jam by Oran Viriyincy
Photo copyright Oran Viriyincy https://www.flickr.com/photos/viriyincy/ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (December 31, 2018) – This year will end with more than 121,600 crashes on Virginia’s roadways. In 2018, much like the years before, those crashes have involved a variety of causes including distracted drivers, impaired drivers, drowsy drivers, and unbelted occupants. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 94 percent of car crashes are caused by human error and unfortunately many of those crashes resulted in injury and/or death. Many of these crashes could have been avoided by simply increasing driver’s attention to the task at hand.

Every year, AAA and other traffic safety advocates educate the public; provide safety tips and even plea for drivers to cease dangerous driving habits and behaviors behind the wheel, yet each year more lives are lost on the road. “While impaired and distracted driving are a big concern for roadway safety, every driver should take responsibility for the safety of those in their vehicle as well as those around the car,” Georjeane Blumling, vice president of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Each year, lives are needlessly lost on the roads.  AAA urges all drivers to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel and most importantly, their mind on their driving.”  

Tragedy on Highways and Byways:

More than 37,000 people die on American roadways each year.  That means someone is involved in a fatal collision every 15 minutes of every day. 

In Virginia, 843 people died in traffic crashes last year. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)  in Virginia reports, between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 another 798 lives have been lost, and the year is not over.

First Responder Incidents

Since August of this year, there have been at least six crashes involving first responders in the Richmond area, one of which took the life of Lieutenant Brad Clark, Firefighter for Hanover Fire and EMS.  

“This is why moving over and slowing down is so important. After a tragic incident has occurred and emergency response personal are onsite to help, motorists need to do their part in assisting them by adhering to the move over law in Virginia,” said Blumling. “Instead of adding to the tragic events, we can save lives.”

School Bus Crashes

Nationwide, more than 23 million students ride the school bus every day. Virginia experienced a 3% increase in school bus crashes from 2013 to 2017. Just in recent months, multiple school bus involved crashes have made the news.

Distracted Driving

In 2017, 208 people were killed and more than 14,600 injured in crashes that were a direct result of distracted driving in Virginia. Through December 28, 2018 records show 22,813 distraction involved crashes which have resulted in 12,907 injuries and 131 deaths in the Commonwealth.

“Distracted driving is undeniably one of the biggest threats to motorists in this country,” Blumling said. “While drivers find drinking and driving to be unacceptable, they may not think twice about picking up that phone and driving distracted.  AAA’s “Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Drive Intexticated” campaign hopes to address this dangerous behavior.  The goal is to make texting while driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.”  In the Commonwealth, texting and driving is banned and is treated as a primary offense. Fines for texting and driving the first time are $125 and $250 for the second offense.  Effective July 1, 2018, the fine for texting and driving in a work zone increased to a $250 fine for the first time offense when “workers are present”.

Pedestrian Fatalities

Last year in Virginia, 116 were killed in pedestrian involved crashes. Through today, December 31, 2018 the count is at 116, from 1,541 crashes.

Seat Belt Use

Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat bels reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent, according Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, 351 people killed on Virginia roads that were unrestrained and unfortunately, that number is on the rise. Through December 31, 2018 over 345 people have died who were unrestrained. 

Virginia’s seat belt use rate remains consistently lower than the national average at 90.1%.  At 85.3% use, over 1.2 million Virginians still are not buckling up.   

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia.