Traffic Fatalities – The Leading Cause of Death of Young People in Virginia

Virginia has a lower highway death rate than many other states. However, traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for young people in the Commonwealth.

These preventable crash claim the lives of hundreds of young people on our roads every year. Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for the age group from four to 34, states Virginia.gov.

Like many other states, Virginia saw an increase in traffic fatalities over the last two years. In 2015, there were 753 traffic deaths, an increase from 703 the previous year.

Traffic fatalities in Virginia - the causes

Virginia's death rate of 9.0 fatalities per 100,000 population remained below the national average of 10.9 in 2015, the most recent year finalized figures are available for.

This gives Virginia the 14th lowest road traffic death rate in the nation. This rate was also lower than North Carolina which recorded 13.7 and Tennessee (14.5).

However, the death rate on Virginia’s roads is higher than in neighboring Maryland (8.5). The highways of Rhode Island were the safest in the nation in 2015.

While we regularly note fatal traffic accidents in Hampton Roads, state agencies note the Northern and Hampton Roads regions consistently have the lowest rates of traffic fatalities per 100,000 people.

The highest number of deaths in 2015 as recorded in the Southside region around Lake Gaston. The fatality rate here was 24.4 per 100,000 people.

The Factors Causing Traffic Fatalities in Virginia

Drunk driving remains a major factor in highway deaths, although enforcement campaigns have helped drive it down in recent years.

The percentage of crash fatalities related to alcohol dropped in 2014 to 36 from 43.6 percent in 2013. In 2014, the Southside region had the highest rate of DUI-related deaths per 100,000 people - 8.9 while the Northern region had the lowest, at 1.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Other causes of traffic fatalities in Virginia include sleep deprivation, use of cell phones and even other kinds of distracted driving such as grooming while driving, or disruptive behavior by passengers.

Virginia.gov notes driver age is another pertinent factor that can cause fatal crashes.  While young drivers lack experience and may make basic mistakes, older drivers may react too slowly and not be prepared for “sudden traffic situations” at intersections.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers represent people who lost a loved one in wrongful death cases. Read our wrongful death resources here or call (757) 455-0077.

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