Virginia State Police shares latest trends on deadly crashes, seat belt usage

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – Following a busy and deadly Memorial Day weekend on Virginia roadways, 10 News is working for you to look into the latest crash data, including the number of people killed in accidents who weren’t wearing their seat belts.

This comes after four people from Pennsylvania were killed in a car crash on Interstate 81 on Tuesday, and according to state police, none of them were wearing a seat belt.

“A lot of people are choosing not to. So if I was going to tell you that you were going to die tomorrow in a crash if you weren’t going to wear a seatbelt, would that make you change your mind that day,” said Virginia State Police Sergeant Rick Garletts.

Because of the deadly crash, I-81 northbound lanes were closed for several hours as state police investigated the crash, which they call reconstruction.

“Death and serious injury is always going to be reconstruction, especially with commercial motor vehicles,” said Sergeant Garletts. “What reconstruction does is validate that opinion on how those vehicles came to be together and where they go after they come together.”

According to data from Virginia State Police District Six, which includes most of Southwest Virginia, from January 2023 to April, out of the 15 deaths from traffic accidents, five people were not wearing a seatbelt.

During 2022, out of the 91 traffic deaths in Southwest Virginia, 47 people were not wearing a seat belt — that’s over half.

“The first most important thing to do is put on a seat belt just doing that alone is the recognition that, ‘I’m going to be the best driver I can be on the roadway, but I can’t control everything that happens on the roadway,’” said AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokesperson, Morgan Dean.

AAA calls the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the 100 deadliest days on the roadways because of the increased number of drivers on the road during the summer months.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.