Speeding in Virginia Skyrockets on Empty Roads — Charlottesville Sees Highest Increase in Speeding Collisions

Speeding in Virginia Skyrockets on Empty Roads — Charlottesville Sees Highest Increase in Speeding Collisions

While there are fewer cars on the road in the era of social distancing, Virginia law enforcement has reported a significant increase in speeding citations — and for faster speeds than usual. In our study, ValuePenguin analyzed state-wide data to identify the Virginia cities with the highest risk of speeding collisions.

The Virginia State Police (VSP) has reported an uptick in speeding across the state, even as vehicle traffic remains well below average. The VSP has even shared examples of recent speeding tickets handed out on social media, including one for 124 miles per hour (mph) in a 55 mph zone.

In just one day in early May, the VSP stopped eight drivers for speeds over 100 mph, including on I-95, which is typically considered one of the country's most crowded roadways.

Despite roads being less crowded, driving at these speeds is still dangerous and potentially fatal. While year-over-year crashes were down by 78% between March 25th and April 25th of 2020, fatalities have fallen only 35%, suggesting accidents are becoming more deadly. The VSP says the growing injury risk is primarily due to speeding.

ValuePenguin set out to investigate speeding trends across Virginia cities. In our analysis, we found that Virginia cities vary drastically in terms of speeding collisions per capita. While some have seen reductions in crashes, others have witnessed substantial increases in speeding-related collisions.

Key findings:

1. Drivers in Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Bristol, Emporia and Norfolk saw the highest rates of speeding collisions per capita in 2019, all with more than 40 collisions per 10,000 residents.

2. Drivers in Buena Vista, Lynchburg, Lexington, Poquoson and Franklin had the lowest rates of speeding collisions last year, all under eight collisions per 10,000 residents.

3. Roughly half of the Virginia cities analyzed saw increases in speeding collisions from 2017 and 2019, with the greatest increases in Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Norton, Roanoke and Galax, where crashes increased by 40% to nearly 90%.

4. The most dramatic declines in speeding collisions were seen in Lynchburg, Salem, Redford, Franklin and Staunton.

This image shows Virginia cities with the highest and lowest speeding-related collisions.

Table of contents

Virginia cities with highest and lowest rates of speeding crashes

The Virginia cities in which speeding crashes occur at the highest rates — Fredericksburg, Petersburg and Bristol — have an average crash rate of 54.0 collisions per 10,000 residents.

Which Virginia cities are the safest for speeding? There was a clear winner: Buena Vista was the only city included in our analysis that did not record any speeding-related collisions in 2019. Smaller cities with populations under 25,000 also tended to be safer than larger cities for speeding, though there were exceptions.

Fredericksburg has the highest rate of speeding-related collisions

Virginia saw an average of 23.7 crashes per 10,000 residents statewide. However, collision rates were more than double that figure in Fredericksburg. I-95, notoriously one of the most dangerous interstates in the country, passes right through Fredericksburg, as well as Petersburg and Emporia.


Rank
County
Crashes per 10,000 residents
1Fredericksburg59.7
2Petersburg56.1
3Bristol46.1
4Emporia44.9
5Norfolk43.9
N/AVirginia average23.7

Buena Vista had the fewest speeding-related collisions

Buena Vista, a small city that's home to Southern Virginia University, was the only city in our analysis with no speeding collisions in 2019. In fact, Buena Vista has recorded only one speed-related crash over the past three years.



Rank
County
Crashes per 10,000 residents
1Buena Vista0.0
2Lynchburg3.9
3Lexington4.2
4Poquoson5.7
5Franklin7.5
N/AVirginia average23.7

Virginia cities diverge in improving speeding safety

When comparing data from the past three years, Virginia cities are split in terms of how they've improved road safety. While crashes increased by 3.7% across all cities, results differ drastically by location. Of the 38 cities analyzed, 18 saw increases in speeding-related collisions, three saw no change and 17 saw crashes decline.

  • Williamsburg saw the greatest decrease in safety, with speeding-related crashes growing by 88%.
  • Lynchburg saw the most improvement, with collisions dropping by 47%.

Largest increases in speeding-related collisions

Rank
City
Percent change
1Williamsburg87.5%
2Charlottesville61.2%
3Norton42.9%
4Roanoke41.5%
5Galax40.0%
N/AVirginia average3.7%

Largest reductions in speeding-related collisions

Rank
City
Percent change
1Lynchburg-46.7%
2Salem-44.3%
3Radford-42.3%
4Franklin-33.3%
5Staunton-28.3%
N/AVirginia average3.7%

Virginia cities with highest and lowest rates of speeding-related fatalities

While traffic collisions are down in 2020 relative to last year, fatalities are largely flat. In fact, the VSP reports that year-to-date traffic fatalities have only declined by two deaths, as of April 28, relative to the similar period in 2019. In our analysis, we identified Virginia cities with the highest and lowest risks of speeding-related fatalities.

Emporia has the highest speeding-related fatality rate

While Virginia's average rate of speeding fatalities is 3.1 per 100,000 residents, Emporia was well above that, at 19.5.

Rank
City
Speeding fatalities per 100,000 residents
1Emporia19.5
2Galax15.6
3Petersburg9.5
4Martinsville7.8
5Suffolk7.7
N/AVirginia average3.1

Many small and midsize Virginia cities recorded no speeding-related fatalities in 2019

Nearly half of the Virginia cities included in our analysis did not report any speeding fatalities last year. Each of these cities had populations less than 100,000:

  • Williamsburg
  • Norton
  • Falls Church
  • Bristol
  • Winchester
  • Poquoson
  • Lexington
  • Buena Vista
  • Harrisonburg
  • Hopewell
  • Covington
  • Manassas Park
  • Staunton
  • Franklin
  • Redford
  • Salem

Consequences of speeding

Virginia drivers caught speeding may face serious legal and financial consequences.

The state typically fines drivers $6 per mile above the legal speed limit, in addition to a $51 processing fee. The fee for excess speed increases to $7 per mile if the motorist is pulled over in a school or construction zone. However, speeding ticket fines are capped at $250, and court fees may vary depending on how you contest your violation.

For example, a driver caught going 20 mph over the speed limit would pay $51 + (20 x $6) = $171. If the speeding violation occurred in a school zone, the driver would pay $51 + (20 x $7) = $191.

Similarly, Virginia drivers caught speeding will likely be subject to a significant increase in their insurance rates, as high as 33%. The average annual premium in Virginia for a minimum coverage policy is $607. A driver paying this amount could see their rate increase by $201, to a total of $808, after a speeding violation.

Drivers caught speeding may also end up with a conviction on their DMV record for five years, and can receive demerit points, which stay on your driving record for two years. A driver who accumulates eight or more demerit points in a 12 month period could face further consequences, like having their license temporarily revoked. Here's how demerits are assigned:

  • 1-9 mph over the speed limit results in 3 demerit points
  • 10-19 mph over the speed limit results in 4 demerit points
  • 20+ mph over the speed limit results in 6 demerit points

Methodology

Speeding collision data from 2017-2020 in Virginia was collected from Virginia's Traffic Records Electronic Data System (TREDS) and the Virginia State Police (VSP). Population data was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cities were only included in the analysis if they were in the TREDS database and had at least 5,000 residents.

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