Special Report: Virginia’s Most Dangerous Drive

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) -- The I-264/I-64 interchange is the busiest interchange in Hampton Roads, and the second-busiest in Virginia. It has the most recorded accidents in Virginia for 2017, and 10 On Your Side worked to figure out why.

Imagine driving 400 miles per day for work. Three times per day, you go through the 264/64 interchange – the interchange where you could have died.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Tasha Royster. It’s also her reality.

“I looked in my rear-view mirror and this car was coming, barreling down the hill, there was nowhere for me to go,” Royster said. “I’m just holding onto the steering wheel like she’s going to hit me.”

Three years later, Royster clearly remembers that dark, rainy afternoon.

“The whole back of the car was in the backseat and everything went flying everywhere,” she said. “From the hill, she just didn’t see that the traffic was stopped.”

Royster's car spun across two lanes and she ended up in the hospital.

Where it happened – I-64 Eastbound before the merge with I-264 -- is a spot familiar to Virginia State Police.

“There are very few shifts I work that there’s not a crash there,” said VSP Trooper Wesley Hagedorn.

It may not look big, but the hill on I-64 East is where the Virginia DMV marks the number one crash spot in the Commonwealth.

Hagedorn said, “Oftentimes traffic backs up there, individuals will crest that hill, by the time they see the traffic stop, they haven’t left themselves enough time to react. A lot of times it’s due to speed.”

State Police focus on the area from Newtown Road to Military Highway, and then from Northampton Boulevard to Indian River Road.

“Your interchange might be in one location, but that traffic can sometimes back up to one, two, two-and-a-half miles and often that’s where you’re getting the collisions, is going to be about a mile offset from the interchange,” said Hagedorn. “But it’s a direct result of the high traffic volume.”

Nearly 400,000 cars travel the interchange every weekday. VDOT says more cars means more crashes.

“That’s a high volume of vehicles, there’s a lot of movements, there’s a lot of ramps going in different directions,” said Dwayne Cook, VDOT Regional Operations Director.

Cook says the number of crashes is proportional to the volume to traffic. VDOT is working on an improvement project that will provide about four miles of changes to the interstate.

Click image for more information on the VDOT project
Click image for more information on the VDOT project

However, both Cook and Hagedorn say to bring the number of crashes down, it will take more than VDOT safety patrols and State Police on the roads.

“Unfortunately without the involvement of the public, we can’t prevent every crash,” said Hagedorn.

So what can you do to stay safe on the roads? Hagedorn says slow down and pay attention. “It’s a lot of crossing pieces and it takes a lot of awareness,” he said.

Without the public’s participation, more people could find themselves like Royster, still haunted by an accident from three years ago.

“It’s really traumatic to try to drive in the rain on the interstate now,” Royster said. “I always feel that way.”

Interactive Crash Map

2017 Interstate High Crash Locations (Statewide)

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