Virginia’s got a need for speed

Taking Action

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia drivers have a need for speed. The Commonwealth earned the #3 spot on a study of the 10 speediest states in the country. “Sixty-four seems like a video game, it’s who can get there the fastest,” says driver Terree Neal.

Drivers 8News caught up with say everyone seems to be putting the pedal to the metal and it’s a well-deserved title.  However, it’s a dangerous distinction.

“Driving like that is just uncalled for,” says Raymond Ball. 

“Yeah I see people speed every day,” says Bradley Walker who drives.”A lot of them are cutting in an out of traffic it is really, really dangerous,” added Ball.

Not only are Virginia drivers flying down on highways, but they’re also zipping into the rest areas. Rest stop worker Glenn Williams told 8News, “I see them coming in here as quickly as they do out there on the main road at times.”

8News checked it out, we clocked drivers on Interstate 64 with our radar gun. As the cars zipped by, we clocked 78,76, 74, 78,73 in a row. Everyone was driving over the limit. 

“It’s a dubious distinction is what I like to say,” says Nick Dehn, a content specialist for Insurify, the group behind the study. The online insurance comparison site used its database of nearly 2 million car insurance applications and ranked each state by reported speeding citations per capita.

Insurify also found the Commonwealth not only cruised to the top of the list for speeding but tickets don’t slow Virginia drivers down. “Virginia ranks number four for speeding re-offenses actually,” explains Dehn. Insurfiy also found Virginia ranks #5 overall for repeat driving offenses. You can see that study here. 

This is despite that fact that Virginia has some of the toughest traffic laws on the books. Anyone driving over 80 miles per hour or 20 miles per hour over the speed limit can be hit with reckless driving. That can carry a fine of up to $2500 even jail time.”Virginia also mandates out of state speeders appear in Virginia courts,” says Dehn.

First Sergeant Lee Elliott with Virginia State Police confirms speeding remains a big problem on our roadways. 8News found in the past two years, in Central Virginia alone, State Police issued each year about 20,000 speeding tickets and that’s just on our highways.  And in of those years, each year, drivers were slapped with more than 11-thousand reckless driving citations.

“The most common excuse is I didn’t know the speed limit. There’s ample signage out there,” says First Sgt. Elliott.

Interesting to note, in the study scientists did not find a significant relationship between the proportion of full-time law enforcement within a state’s population and the rate of speeding offenses.

Virginia’s speed demon distinction as one of the speediest states is nothing to joke about says Martha Meade with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“It’s a sad day, this should really be wake up call for Virginia,” she said. Speeding is an aggressive driving behavior.”

As your speed increases your chance of a crash goes up.

“Greater risk for crashes, more severe crashes, more severe injuries, less effective occupant protection equipment and the list goes on,” says Meade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 speeding contributed to more than a quarter of all traffic deaths killing 9,717 that year.

“Speeding is dangerous. It gives you less time to react to a hazard that’s presented to you. You can quickly outdrive your vehicles’ ability.  As speeds increases, tire traction diminishes,” says First Sgt. Elliott.

A ticket can also drive up your insurance rate. Still, a AAA study reveals half of drivers (50.3%) reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway and 47.6% reported driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street. You can find more here. 

By the way, speeding is one of the top three deadly mistakes teen drivers make. 

State troopers try to educate by public-speaking about speeding at schools and civic associations but police and fines can only do so much.

“Ultimately it is up to the person behind the wheel,” says First Sgt. Elliott.

So before racing to your next destination perhaps we can give it a break as this driver suggests.

“I found out as you get older you don’t gain no time. Just pay attention and enjoy the country for crying out, it’s a beautiful state,” says Ball.

In case you are wondering, South Carolina took the #1 spot as the speediest state. Meantime another survey on worst driving put Virginia drivers at #7.

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