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GETTING THERE: Washington, D.C., traffic deaths jumped 33% in 2020; Virginia saw 2% increase
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GETTING THERE: Washington, D.C., traffic deaths jumped 33% in 2020; Virginia saw 2% increase

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Surreal crash data from 2020 continues to trickle in, and this time the figures indicate that Virginia’s spike in roadway deaths isn’t limited to our state.

The National Safety Council estimate for 2020 deadly car crashes in the U.S. shows an eight percent increase compared to 2019. The NSC reported 42,060 deaths in crashes across the country last year. In 2019, there were 39,107.

The death rate of 12.8 per 100,000 people in 2020 was an increase compared to 11.9 in 2019. While miles traveled in 2020 fell 13 percent, the rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled spiked by 24 percent.

The NSC report estimated last year’s deadly crashes carried a cost of $474.4 billion.

In Virginia last year, crashes and injuries fell, but deaths on roadways increased.

At least the commonwealth didn’t land in the top tier of states where deadly crashes had a notable rise in 2020.

Virginia’s 838 crash deaths in 2020 mark a 2 percent increase over the prior year’s 821 deaths, according to the NSC report.

Washington, D.C., tied for the largest increase in roadway deaths last year with a 33 percent spike — nine deaths more than 2019. South Dakota also had a 33 percent increase compared to 2019, or 34 additional deaths.

Georgia had the biggest spike in the number of crash deaths, with 267 more roadway than in 2019, an 18 percent increase.

On the flip side, roadway deaths dropped in some states.

Hawaii led the pack with a 20 percent decrease, with 22 fewer roadway deaths last year than 2019.

Police have reported that two primary causes of Virginia’s rise in deadly crashes were speeding and reckless driving.

A trio of safety organizations are trying to do something about the nationwide increases in speeding and deadly crashes.

The Governors Highway Safety Association, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Road Safety Foundation announced funding last week to “implement and evaluate speed management pilot programs” in Virginia and Maryland.

Each state will receive $100,000 to develop the pilot programs, the groups said in a news release.

“Though speed management has been a problem for decades, speeding became even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, as less traffic has prompted some motorists to drive at high speeds on highways and city streets across the nation,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in the release.

The ultimate aim of the pilot programs is to develop “speed reduction strategies” all states can use.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

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