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Fatal traffic crashes increase, what Virginia laws are needed to help

Published: May. 21, 2022 at 8:06 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Fatal motor vehicle crashes continue to rise in Virginia and across the country as more people get ready to hit the roadways for summer travel.

”Improvements could be made to vehicles themselves so that the ride and riders and the people outside the vehicle are safer,” Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said.

Fatal motor vehicle crashes have increased 10% across the country in the last year and similar spikes are happening here in the Valley.

“It’s happening because people are driving while impaired, they’re driving too fast and people aren’t buckling up,” Chase said.

Between 2020 and 2021 Virginia experienced a 13.9% increase in estimated fatalities from reported 2020 fatalities.

“Virginia is lacking a number of basic laws including a primary enforcement seatbelt law for all passengers. Virginia is also missing some really critical teen graduated driving law and an impaired driving law,” Chase said.

Chase said during the pandemic there were fewer drivers on the roads and people became comfortable with faster driving and more distractions.

Now with more people traveling again driving has become more dangerous.

“So we’re seeing these dangerous behaviors like speeding and driving while impaired and distracted driving is happening still at the high pace and more people are back on the roads so it’s a perfect storm for disaster,” Chase said.

Chase said new safety features on vehicles may be a start.

”If a driver is distracted or impaired and doesn’t see that he or she should be breaking, the vehicle will send an alert, and then if the driver still doesn’t respond the vehicle will actually stop,” Chase said.

This feature is available in some newer models but is not a requirement in all vehicles as of now.

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