RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Data show deaths in car crashes rose statewide last year, even as Virginians drove less due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Crash fatalities increased by 2% from 827 in 2019 to 847 in 2020, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, citing data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Because there was less traffic on the roadways that seemed to, for whatever reason, encourage folks to think that they could drive faster, because there was less congestion on the highways,” John Saunders, Virginia Highway Safety Office Director for the Department of Motor Vehicles, told the newspaper. “And when you get increased speeds, even though you may have fewer crashes the crashes you do have are much more severe crashes because of the increase in speed.”
With the July Fourth weekend expected to be busy with travelers, Virginia State Police increased patrolling through Monday at midnight.
The Virginia Department of Transportation was also halting highway lane closures and many highway work zones on major roads and interstates until Tuesday to help alleviate traffic.