RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia DMV’s Highway Safety Office has reported that crash fatalities reached a 14-year high on the Commonwealth’s roadways last year. They are now making a call to action, urging Virginians to reverse course in 2022.

“There are immediate, simple actions Virginians can take to save lives on our roadways,” said Acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “This is critically important as fatalities continue to increase this year. Vehicles and roadways are safer than they ever have been, yet we continue to lose lives to senseless crashes. Do your part to help. Slow down, buckle up, focus on the task of driving and never drive impaired. It truly is that simple.”

Last year, 968 people died in crashes on Virginia roadways — the highest number of annual fatalities since 2007 when 1,026 people died. The fatality rate of 2021 was a 14.3% increase over 2020.

Virginia’s driving fatalities increased across a number of categories, including speed-related fatalities, commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities and fatalities of motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, teen drivers and mature drivers.

Chart graphic provided by Virginia DMV

The trend in fatalities is not unique to Virginia, however. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 31,000 people were killed in crashes within the first nine months of 2021, a 12% increase over the same time period in 2020 and the highest number of fatalities during the first nine months of any year since 2006. The data for the rest of 2021’s U.S. crash statistics are yet to be published.

“This trend is poised to continue unless Virginians take action,” Ford said. “Most people want to contribute to something greater; by driving safely, you can truly make a difference, not just in your life, but in the lives of everyone with whom you share the road.”

DMV and its highway safety partners say that they embrace data-driven strategies to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities on Virginia roadways. These range from education and enforcement to grant funding, news media engagement and advertising. 

So far this year, 245 people have been killed in crashes on Virginia roadways, a 12% increase compared to this point in 2021.