Virginia traffic deaths are back up again. Can road safety improvements help?

Transportation officials seek to address the rise in traffic fatalities in Virginia.
Transportation officials seek to address the rise in traffic fatalities in Virginia.(Chip Somodevilla & Virginia Mercury)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 8:11 AM EDT
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Transportation officials are spending millions on traffic infrastructure in Virginia in hopes of curbing an alarming increase in traffic fatalities from 2014 to 2021.

In a rare move last month, the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted to appropriate $672.4 million to accelerate road safety improvements across the state.

In 2021, Virginia recorded 968 total fatalities on roadways. By comparison, 700 traffic deaths occurred in 2014.

The solutions included in the Virginia Highway Safety Improvement Program that officials hope will reduce those numbers are backed by data from transportation agencies across the country and the Federal Highway Administration, said Tracy Turpin, the program’s manager.

“We have a high level of confidence that these countermeasures will have a positive impact on the users of highways in the commonwealth, but it’s going to take us a couple of years to see the data and analysis to fully evaluate the effectiveness of those programs,” said Turpin.

The Virginia Department of Transportation typically uses three to five years’ worth of crash data history to evaluate the effectiveness of a program or roll out any countermeasures.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)