Virginia Auto Accident Statistics
Lee Floyd—February 8, 2022
2021 Updated Statistics on Virginia Auto Accidents
Although 2020 saw an overall reduction in Virginia’s number of traffic accidents and injuries, there was sadly an increase in the number of traffic fatalities.
According to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, in 2019, a total of 128,172 accidents led to 65,708 injuries and 827 deaths. In 2020, drivers were involved in 105,600 accidents that resulted in 52,668 injuries and 847 deaths.
Many of these accidents and resulting injuries can be attributed to a few key factors: driver inexperience, distraction, and intoxication or impairment. Below, we discuss some of the most common causes of auto accidents in Virginia and what drivers can do to protect themselves.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those aged 5 to 19.
Many of these crashes involve teen drivers who lack the experience to avoid some of the biggest dangers on the road—wild animals, distracted or impaired drivers, and inclement weather. Tragically, in 2020, 72 16-to-19-year-olds were killed on Virginia highways.
If you have an inexperienced driver in your family or are one yourself, there are some steps you can take to boost road readiness.
- Wear a seatbelt. Using proper safety restraints can significantly reduce your risk of injury if an accident does occur. And in Virginia, being caught without a seatbelt can mean a ticket—not the best outcome for teen drivers who already have higher auto insurance rates.
- Put the phone away. No one, including adults, should be using their cell phone while driving—but for teens who text and drive, the risk of a serious accident is much higher. By using do-not-disturb features paired to your teen’s car, you can ensure that your teen won’t be able to surf the internet or send a quick text while behind the wheel.
- Don’t speed or run yellow lights. Speed is a factor in a significant percentage of vehicle crashes and an even greater percentage of vehicle fatalities. Many insurance companies have GPS devices you can use to ensure your teen driver isn’t exceeding the speed limit in a car you insure.
- Don’t drink or use illicit substances—and don’t drive after taking medication. No drinking and driving should go without saying for teens, who can’t legally drink in the first place—but as a parent, it’s important to set an example as well. And if you’re under the influence of medication that can slow your reaction time, even something as seemingly innocuous as Benadryl, you may want to avoid getting behind the wheel until it’s left your system.
Though these steps may not prevent all accidents, they can take away some of the greatest risk factors behind serious or potentially fatal car crashes.
The advent of handheld phones has brought driver distraction to its peak—but even non-cell-phone users can be guilty of distracted driving. Engaging in any activity that takes your attention away from the road, even for a few seconds, can pose a major risk to you and those around you.
Refrain from eating, drinking, applying makeup, digging through your handbag, or doing anything else that requires you to shift your focus from the act of driving.
And distracted driving has real consequences. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, even listening to a phone conversation while behind the wheel can increase your risk of being involved in a crash by 30%.
Someone dialing a cell phone while driving is nearly three times more likely to be in an accident. Setting your phone aside while driving is perhaps the single biggest step you can take to reduce your risk of injury.
Pedestrians & Cyclists
In 2020, nearly 1,500 pedestrians and 659 bicyclists were injured in crashes on Virginia roadways, while 117 pedestrians and 8 cyclists were killed.
Because bicyclists and pedestrians don’t have any protection from 2,000 pounds or more of steel, most pedestrian-vehicle crashes result in severe injury to the person struck. In some crashes, especially those involving bicyclists, the driver may be injured as well.
Some tips to avoid crashes include:
- Always wear bright, reflective material when biking, walking, or running near major roadways.
- Pay attention to your surroundings—don’t drive while distracted, and consider leaving your earbuds at home.
- Share the road.
- Use hand signals (for cyclists) and turn signals (for drivers).
- Cyclists may want to invest in a blinking light or battery-powered headlamp for additional visibility.
Though wearing a seatbelt may not prevent you from being involved in a crash, it can reduce the risk that you’ll be seriously injured or killed if you are. Without a seatbelt, you could be thrown into or even through the windshield if you collide with something in front of you; and once you’ve been thrown out of your vehicle, your risk of serious injury increases significantly.
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the risk of death is about 8 times higher if a vehicle occupant isn’t using their seatbelt (or, for children, strapped into a size-appropriate child seat).
One of the most preventable causes of traffic accidents and fatal crashes in Virginia—and nationwide—is drunk or impaired driving. Around one in every three traffic fatalities in Virginia lists alcohol use as a contributing factor, and this percentage is slightly higher than the nationwide average.
Three of every four impaired drivers who are involved in a fatal crash have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or higher.
The more impaired you are when you get behind the wheel, the more likely you are to be in a serious or fatal accident. Always use a designated driver or call a ride-share service or taxi if you’re planning to drink away from home.
Contact Breit Biniazan for Auto Accident Attorneys in Virginia
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, it’s important to seek advice on your legal options as soon as you can. Virginia has strict statutes of limitation that may prevent you from suing for damages after more than two years have passed since your accident.
“The highest and best use of my time is to help others when they have nowhere else to turn.” – Lee Floyd
At Breit Biniazan, Lee Floyd works tirelessly to represent innocent clients harmed by the negligence of others. She left the world of corporate defense for personal injury litigation. Now, as a Partner with Breit Biniazan, she offers a unique perspective: a peek into what corporate defense teams do and say behind closed doors. Her previous experience gives Breit Biniazan clients the upper hand.