Unbelted Motorist Deaths on the Rise, According to VDOT Study
The Virginia Department of Transportation recently finished compiling a distressing set of data that indicates the number of young people between the ages of 15 and 20 who died in automobile accidents while not wearing seatbelts from the first half of 2018 was double that of the same period of time in 2017. Shannon Valentine, the Secretary of Transportation, went on record with the information as well as the urgent reminder that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of dying in an automobile accident by 45 percent.
The concrete facts of the data suggested that from January 1st until June 30th, 18 people aged between 15 and 20 died in car accidents throughout Virginia while not wearing seatbelts. These fatalities were scattered throughout numerous counties in the state, with the highest numbers being in Bedford County, Southampton County, and Washington County.
Additional facts released by the Virginia Department of Transportation suggest that there was a 34 percent rise in the number of traffic fatalities affecting people between 21 and 35 who were in cars or other vehicles without wearing a seatbelt. Specifically, during the period of time examined (from January until June) 41 21-35 year-olds died in car accidents while not wearing seat belts in 2017. In 2018, that number rose to 55.
Currently, the Commonwealth of Virginia does not feature any primary seatbelt laws. There are laws stating that drivers as well as passengers in the front seat wear seat belts, and anyone under 18-years-of-age must be wearing a seatbelt when they are in the car, but these rules leave plenty of room for individuals legally choosing not to wear the safety device.
At the time of this writing, the laws also indicate that a person driving a car containing unbelted passengers can be held accountable for any harm that may come to their passengers. They are also liable to be charged for all fines as well as court costs incurred by their passengers.
The Virginia Department of Transportation hopes that with this new information there will be an increased level of awareness among Virginia Motorists and a subsequent increase in the vigilance with which drivers and passengers remember to use their seat belts.
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