Report: Virginia lagging behind on road safety; DC has one of best state highway safety laws

A safety report card that grades states on the number of deadly crashes and their traffic laws shows that Virginia is lagging behind other states.

Watchdog group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety tracked a nearly 20% increase in the number of deadly accidents nationwide in the first six months of 2021. It is the largest boost of this type on record, said Cathy Chase, the group’s president.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report card, called “Out of Control: 2022 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws,” discovered that Virginia is among 11 states with a poor record for creating new, tougher laws to keep roads safe.

“States are overdue in enacting on lifesaving proposals,” Chase said. “Allowing this carnage to occur year after year, when solutions are readily available, is simply unacceptable.”

The group looked at several road-safety issues, including distracted driving, teen drivers and seat belt use. It found that in 2019, Virginia saw more than 800 traffic fatalities.

The group is asking state lawmakers to make Virginia a primary enforcement state, which allows a police officer to stop a driver and passengers who are not wearing seat belts.

“These verified solutions are within reach,” Chase said, during an online news conference video to unveil the report card. “And lives are dependent upon them.”

Meanwhile, D.C. is on the list with one of the best state highway safety laws. In 2019, the District saw 23 roadway fatalities. Other states with the best marks on the report card include New York, Rhode Island and Delaware.

According to the report card, Maryland saw a little more than 500 traffic deaths in 2019 and has stronger laws traffic laws than Virginia.

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