ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) — Although the number of traffic accidents has dropped dramatically in the DC region during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people dying in crashes has not fallen nearly as much and police say the reason involves speed.
Numbers obtained by Seven on Your Side show the total number of crashes in Virginia dropped by 78% between March 25 and April 25 of this year, compared to 2019. There were 10,802 crashes in 2019 during that period, while this year there were just 2,320.
But the number of deaths during that period only fell from 60 in 2019 to 39 in 2020, a 35% drop. Virginia State Police say nine people died in crashes from this past Thursday until Saturday alone, and for the entire year traffic deaths have only dropped by two – 237 last year as of April 28 vs. 235 in Virginia this year.
Virginia State Police say although fewer accidents are happening overall, the ones that are happening are deadly a much higher percentage of the time than normal.
“A lot of the crashes that we have seen are very major crashes,” said Sgt. Rolando Curiel with the Fairfax Division of the Virginia State Police. “Rear-end collisions that you see during rush hour traffic -- we haven’t seen those in a very long time.”
Curiel told ABC7 many crashes state police are seeing involve single vehicles going too fast that crash into jersey walls or guard rails, sometimes with deadly results. He asked drivers to please slow down and not use the low traffic during the pandemic as an excuse to speed.
“The speed limit is still the same, it hasn’t changed,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Maryland there has also been a dramatic drop in crashes, but Maryland State Police say they are experiencing the same problem with high speeds, especially on the Beltway.
State Police say they have added extra patrols and have written a lot of speeding tickets over the past week. They say troopers at barracks in Forestville, Rockville, and College Park have written a large number of tickets on I-95, I-50, and the Beltway since April 20.
Per Maryland State Police, troopers have written at least 71 tickets for drivers going at least 80 mph during that time, including at least 21 tickets for drivers going at least 100 mph.
One driver from Bowie was charged last week with going 110mph while drunk, and another driver was recently charged by a trooper from the College Park barrack with going 126 mph!
Virginia State Police sent ABC7 a copy of a portion of ticket written for someone allegedly going 111 mph on I-95 in Spotsylvania County during the pandemic.