More Virginians are dying in speed-related crashes. Why are fewer speeders being caught?

Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-22 17:20:15-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A recently released Virginia State Crime Commission (VSCC) report suggests the number of speed-related fatal car crashes is on the rise, yet the number of drivers facing the consequences for speeding is decreasing. On Tuesday, VSCC shared key findings regarding motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicyclist fatalities.

Speed-related fatalities increased by 39% between 2017 and 2022, according to the report.

Between that same time, the report stated there was a 39% decrease in convictions for speeding and a 50% decrease in speeding convictions that qualify as reckless driving due to the driver going 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit.

"Virginia stakeholders observed an increase in 100+ miles per hour speeding violations in recent years," the report said.

The report said the imbalance may be due to staffing shortages and decreased proactive enforcement.

A survey by the Virginia Chapter of the Police Benevolent Association suggests roughly 800 officers have left Virginia State Police in the last five years.

"There's been this mass exodus, so when you have that, you're not going to have those people on the road to slow people down or write speeding tickets," Rich Goszka, a member of the chapter, said.

On Wednesday, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) said his administration is working to reverse the trend and tackle other unsafe driving practices, like distracted driving.

"Secretary [Terrence] Cole, who was our Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, has been collaborating on all law enforcement issues, not just on our highways and roads, but collaborating with federal resources, state resources, local resources, in order to bring together a common approach on so many of these issues," Youngkin said.

A report shared by the Virginia Department of Transportation said there were 171 pedestrian fatalities documented in 2022, the highest number of pedestrians hit and killed in five years.

Henrico County had the second-highest number of pedestrian fatalities (behind Fairfax County) between 2018 and 2022, according to that report.

Chesterfield ranked fourth and Richmond ranked sixth.

Richmond and New Kent County recently installed cameras in school zones to catch speeding drivers.

The VSCC report said VDOT will be working with Virginia State Police to pilot work zone speed devices beginning in early 2024.

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