RICHMOND, VA (Friday, December 28, 2018) – Distracted Drivers! Impaired Drivers! Drowsy Drivers? School Bus Involved Crashes! Unbelted Motorists! First responders Hit by Motorists! Children dying in hot cars! And the list goes on. Human errors cause about 94% of vehicular crashes, according to the National highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a painful reminder that deaths resulting from crashes on roadways across the country and in Virginia are frequently preventable.
Every year, AAA and traffic safety advocates nationwide send out warnings, safety tips, and pleas for drivers to eliminate bad habits, attitudes and behaviors behind the wheel, yet each year more precious lives are lost.
“While impaired driving may top the causation list for roadway fatalities one year, and distracted the next, the fact is that drivers are responsible for their lives and the lives of every single person on the roads with them at any given moment in time,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager Public and Government Affairs for AAA. “Something has to give. Each year is filled with tragedy after tragedy that could have been avoided. Not only must drivers pay attention to safety first, but passengers must help by speaking up when there is an unsafe situation. Passenger and drivers alike have a choice each and every time they are in a car. AAA urges everyone in the car to make the right choices.”
Tragedy on Highways and byways
More than 37,000 people die on American roadways each year. That means, sadly, someone is involved in a fatal collision every 15 minutes of every day.
In Virginia, 843 people died in traffic crashes last year. Between January 1, 2018 and through yesterday, December 26, 2018 another 791 lives have been lost, and the year is not over.
First Responder Incidents
Since August of this year, there have been at least six crashes involving first responders in the Richmond, Virginia area, one of which took the life of Lieutenant Brad Clark, Firefighter for Hanover Fire and EMS.
“When there has already been a crash or incident that requires emergency response and those who are responding are then injured are killed, it is doubly tragic and heartbreaking,” said Meade.
School Bus Crashes
Virginia experienced a 3% increase in school bus crashes 2013 to 2017. Nationwide, more than 23 million students ride the school bus every day. Just in recent months, multiple school bus involved crashes have made the news:
- November 13, 2018, Lunenburg County School Bus Flips (WRIC)
- November 12, 2018, Dinwiddie County Driver Crashes into School Bus (WTKR)
- October 29, 2018, Chesterfield County School Bus Crash Hurts Two (Richmond.com/RTD)
- October 10, 2018, Petersburg, School Bus Clips Car (NBC)
- October 3, 2018, Hanover School Bus involved in head on crash (Richmond.com/RTD)
Children in Hot Cars
As of December 21st of this year, 49 children had died in vehicular heatstroke in the United States, according to noheatstroke.org. That is higher, the organization states, than the per-year average of 38 from 1998-2018 and ties the highest number in 20 years. (49 deaths also recorded in 2010.) This summer in Virginia:
In 2017, 208 people were killed and more than 14,600 injured in crashes that were a direct result of distracted driving in Virginia. Through yesterday, December 26, 2018 records show 22,612 distraction involved crashes which have resulted in 12,780 injuries and 133 deaths in the commonwealth.
“Distracted driving is undeniably one of the biggest threats to motorists in this country,” Meade said. “The problem is rampant and nothing seems to be getting through to drivers who continually report they believe that distracted driving is a huge problem, but then admit that they drive distracted on a regular basis.”
The top three distractions which cause accidents are: eyes not on road, looking at a roadside incident and using a cell phone/texting.
Last year in Virginia, 116 were killed in pedestrian involved crashes. Through yesterday, December 26, 2018 the count is at 110, from 1,516 crashes.
308 people killed on VA roads in 2017 who were unrestrained and the number is on the rise. Through December 26, 2018 345 have died who were not wearing seat belts.
Virginia’s seat belt use rate remains consistently lower than the national average. At 85.3% use, over 1.2 million Virginians still are not buckling up.