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A new study reveals that individual states’ lack of safe driving laws could be contributing to the surge in the number of people killed in car accidents. The number of fatal car crash victims in 2015 spiked at 35,092, which was the largest increase in five decades. Data collected for 2016 indicates that the numbers will be even higher. In the first nine months of 2016, there was an increase of 8 percent more victims killed in car accidents than during the same time period in 2015.

National Statistics

Information collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows steep increases in deaths in almost every category of crashes, including:

  • Bicycle accidents had a 12 percent fatality increase;
  • Pedestrian accidents had a 10 percent fatality increase;
  • Teen driver accidents had a 10 percent fatality increase;
  • Distracted driving accidents had a 9 percent fatality increase;
  • Motorcycle accidents had an 8 percent fatality increase;
  • Accidents with victims under the age of 16 had a 6 percent fatality increase;
  • Unbelted vehicle occupant accidents had a 5 percent fatality increase;
  • Accidents caused by speeding had a 3 percent fatality increase; and
  • Impaired driving accidents had a 3 percent fatality increase.

Safe Driving Laws

The Annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, which was prepared by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, examines the safe driving laws of each individual state and how those driving laws – or lack of – impacts the number of fatal crashes in those states.

This year, the state of Rhode Island was ranked number one for having the best safe driving laws. Rhode Island was followed by Delaware, Washington state, Washington D.C., Louisiana and Oregon. The states with the worst safe driving laws were South Dakota, Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, and Montana.

According to the report, there needs to be 374 laws safe driving laws passed throughout the country in order to meet the optimal safe driving advocates’ recommendations.

Where Does Virginia Fall?

Although the state does have some safe driving laws, the report points out that there are areas that lawmakers need to address. For example, Virginia has a law requiring the use of seat belts, but violators cannot be pulled over by police for not complying. It is a secondary law, meaning law enforcement would need another reason to stop a vehicle in order to cite the driver. The report recommends that Virginia lawmakers change the law and make it a primary enforcement law.

Other safe driving laws the study recommends that the state passes include requiring children up to 8-years-old or up to 57 inches to be in booster seats. The study also recommends there be changes to the state’s open container law for unrestricted drivers 18-years-old or younger. There are also changes needed to several graduated driving license (GDL) categories, including:

  • Minimum age for driver’s permit;
  • Supervised driving requirements;
  • Nighttime restrictions;
  • Passenger restrictions; and
  • Cell phone restrictions.

In the last decade, there have been 8,995 victims killed on Virginia’s roads. Our Virginia Beach wrongful death attorneys have advocated for many families who have lost loved ones in car crashes and understand how devastating – both emotionally and financially – these losses can be.

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