ROANOKE, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam designated April as Highway Safety Month in Virginia on Monday.
With highway fatalities alarmingly on the rise in the commonwealth and nationwide, the governor called on his public safety and transportation agencies to coordinate efforts in order to save lives.
In 2017, 843 people died on Virginia's roadways, which was a 20 percent increase over the commonwealth's low of 700 in 2014.
During each week in April, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia State Police will work with the Commonwealth's network of safety partners to call the public's attention to behaviors that lead to crashes, injuries and fatalities.
The coordinated, high-visibility effort will remind all Virginians how to stay safe while in vehicles, on motorcycles and bicycles and when walking or running.
According to Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, 114 pedestrians were killed in crashes in Virginia last year. Virginia also recorded that in 2017 there were 26,000 crashes, resulting in 208 deaths, stemming from some sort of driver inattention behind the wheel.
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine stated that texting and driving remains one of the leading factors in distracted driving crashes, although it is against Virginia law.
The first week of April, through radio, television, social media and scheduled programs, the focus will be on road users who are particularly vulnerable, namely pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
April 9 through 14 will be Work Zone Safety Awareness Week and will feature a series of activities planned by VDOT to remind motorists to slow down in work zones.
April is also national Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Virginia will announce the winner of DMV's Take Action Against Distraction license plate design contest for high school students. The Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance and Drive Smart Virginia are partnering on statewide radio commercials to raise awareness of distracted driving.
The final week of the month will focus on the critical importance of seat belt usage, maintaining safe speeds and driving sober.