Here in Virginia, the Department of Transportation has shared recent data that has officials worried about travel in the Commonwealth during the coronavirus pandemic.
Total crash numbers are down in Virginia, but there has been a large increase in unbelted and speed-related crashes and crash fatalities. The VDOT points to fewer cars on the road being the main reason why more deadly crashes have occurred. The data collected by VDOT indicates there has been an increase in the percentage of crashes involving speed and people not wearing seat belts.
What the Virginia Department of Transportation Says About Speeding increases during the Pandemic
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said “Fewer vehicles on the road during the COVID-19 crisis have contributed to a 45% decrease in all crashes, but it is of great concern to see that the number of fatalities involving both speed and unrestrained travelers has increased by 78% during this time period compared to 2019. We are urging all motorists to drive the posted speed limit and wear seat belts.”
Additionally, from March 13 to May 21, 2020, data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles showed that speed-related fatalities constituted nearly 50 percent of the overall fatalities. This is a greater percentage of speed related deaths than the same time frame in 2019 which was 42 percent.
Virginia DMV data also shows that of the 58 speed-related deaths that were recorded during this period, 41 people were not wearing seat belts (70 percent).
Also unrestrained fatalities for 2020 have increased by approximately 15.4% compared to 2019 (120 deaths in 2020 vs.104 in 2019).
An analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association reported a dramatic increase in speeding and other types of reckless driving across the country during the pandemic.
Some examples from the study include:
- In New York City, despite far fewer vehicles on the road, the city's automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets citywide on March 27, or nearly double the 12,672 tickets issued daily a month earlier. In Los Angeles, speeds are up by as much as 30% on some streets, prompting changes to traffic lights and pedestrian walk signals.
- Some states are finding reduced crash rates but more serious crashes. In Massachusetts, the fatality rate for car crashes is rising, and in Nevada and Rhode Island, state officials note pedestrian fatalities are rising.
- In Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities have more than doubled compared to the same time period in previous years. Half those deaths were related to speeding or to careless or negligent driving.
Virginia Judges often punish Reckless Driving harshly
Judges in Northern Virginia have been punishing people charged with Reckless Driving when they are convicted with jail time, license suspensions, and high fines. The standard in many courtrooms in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William County is if a driver is found guilty of exceeding 90 miles per hour, then the driver will spend one day in jail for each mile an hour above 90 mph. For example, a person driving 98 miles per hour may serve an 8 day jail sentence and lose their privilege to drive in Virginia for up to 6 months. The fine can be as high as $2500.00.
The Gordon Law Firm has helped more than 3000 people accused of Reckless Driving in Virginia. If you or a friend have been accused of Reckless Driving or Speeding, speak to one of our lawyers, Alex Gordon or Carlos Wall for a free consultation. We can be reached 7 days a week at 703.218.8416 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Absent Traffic Jams, drivers are getting more Reckless", April 16, 2020
"Virginia sees uptick in unbelted and speed-related crashes during COVID-19 pandemic," June 21, 2020