GETTING THERE: Bleak trend on Virginia roads | Local News

IT’S OFFICIAL—last year was a deadly one on Virginia roads.

Fatal crashes in the state hit a 14-year high in 2021, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported in a news release last week.

The DMV’s records show 968 people died in crashes on Virginia roads last year, up 14.3% compared to 2020, which also was no picnic as fatal crashes piled up despite lighter traffic during the pandemic shutdown.

Last year’s Virginia roadway death tally was the highest since 1,026 people died in crashes in 2007, DMV said.

On the good side, DMV’s data show fatalities dropped in crashes involving alcohol, distracted drivers and unbelted drivers or passengers.

But statewide fatalities increased in various categories:

Speed-related: 445 in 2021 vs. 406 in 2020

Commercial vehicle-involved crashes: 115 vs. 102

Motorcyclists: 102 vs. 87

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Older drivers: 145 vs. 126

The DMV noted that Virginia’s deadly roadway crash data “mirrors a startling national trend.”

DMV cited the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s preliminary data covering the first nine months of 2021, when more than 31,000 people died in crashes, up 12% from the same period in 2020 and the most fatalities since 2006.

Unfortunately, deadly crashes are just as bad locally, as crashes, injuries and deaths spiked in 2021 in Fredericksburg, as well as Spotsylvania and Stafford counties.

In 2020, there were 22 fatal crashes in the city and the two counties, according to DMV data. Last year, there were 29 fatalities. So far this year, there have been 11 deadly crashes in the region.

Things don’t look good so far this year statewide, as the DMV reported that 245 people have died in crashes on state roads, a 12% increase compared to the same time period in 2021.

“This trend is poised to continue unless Virginians take action,” Acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford said in the release. “Most people want to contribute to something greater; by driving safely, you can truly make a difference, not just in your life, but in the lives of everyone with whom you share the road.”

Transportation projects

Anyone interested in a firsthand glimpse of local projects in the state transportation Six-Year Improvement Program will get a chance to do that Monday.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is on a nine-meeting tour across the state to take part in public meetings, where residents get a chance to see and hear about projects in the fiscal year 2023–28 plan.

Transportation officials also want to hear from the public, and that can be done at the meeting.

The local public meeting begins at 4 p.m. Monday at James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

[email protected]

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