VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) — DMV reports show the nationwide trend of increasing traffic deaths is also true in Virginia. What’s driving the numbers is a question that could save your life.
While traffic deaths are up 14 percent across the nation, they are only up six percent in Virginia, for the first half of this year. 10 On Your Side found DMV reports that show 438 fatal accidents in the Commonwealth between January 1 and July 31, 2015.
Sixty of those fatalities have happened in Hampton Roads:
- Virginia Beach: 15
- Norfolk: 10
- Portsmouth: 2
- Suffolk: 9
- Chesapeake: 12
- Newport News: 8
- Hampton: 4
Statewide, it’s 13 more deaths then this time last year. The good news from DMV is that DUI deaths and teen deaths are down. Most deadly accidents this year involve drivers 36 to 50-years-old.
“So that’s a little unusual, ” said AAA Tidewater spokesperson Georjeane Blumling. She told WAVY.com, experts can’t really explain why the typically more experienced and more cautious drivers are dying, but there are theories.
Blumling said lower gas prices and a better economy mean more people are on the road. More people are texting or using cell phones. Not everyone is wearing a seat belt. In fact, only about 79 percent of Virginians wear a seat belt habitually.
“If we could do two things, if we could get folks to, everyone buckle up every ride, everyone in the car and everyone stay off of their cell phones … if we can get people to stop doing that while they’re driving, it will make a dramatic difference,” she said.
Another reason we could be seeing more deaths on the road is that a number of accidents this year have had two or more people in the same vehicle die.
Last year was the deadliest on Virginia roads since 1966 with 700 deaths for the whole year.