Virginia: Interstate 81 Police Reports and Accident Guide
Interstate 81 runs through the United States for 855 miles. 325 miles of that stretches through Virginia; more than any other state that shares I-81. From the north, I-81 enters Virginia through Berkeley County, West Virginia, near Ridgeway, and exits in the south at Bristol, Tennessee.
Car accidents are extremely common on this stretch of I-81. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, more than 2,000 motor vehicle accidents take place on I-81 in Virginia every year. This includes an average of 45 significant accidents, meaning accidents that take four or more hours to clear.
The sheer volume of cars and the speed limit alone are enough to make I-81 one of the most dangerous interstates in the country.
I-81 is also wildly popular among drug traffickers, especially heroin smugglers, who use the interstate for the same reason as commercial freight companies, to get their merchandise from south to north, and vice versa, in the quickest and easiest way possible.
Our Virginia I-81 Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
Our Virginia car accident attorneys have been protecting the rights of injured victims and their families for years. If a reckless or negligent driver caused your accident and subsequent injuries, or if you lost a family member in a fatal collision, our attorneys can help ensure that your right to pursue financial compensation is protected. Contact us online to schedule your free case review today.
I-81 Virginia Crash Statistics
Regardless of the route you choose to take, driving inherently involves many different hazards. Some areas of the state, however, have roadways that are much more dangerous than other areas. The portion of I-81 that runs through Virginia is infamous for being dangerous to drivers no matter what kind of vehicle they are in.
Some statistics that pertain to driving on Interstate 81 through Virginia include:
- Roughly 50 of the 325 miles in Virginia feature grades of at least 3%.
- Over 40% of trucking accidents within the state take place on I-81.
- About 25% of traffic accidents on this portion of I-81 involve commercial trucks. This is a higher truck accident percentage than any other road in the state.
- Nearly one-quarter of all accidents on I-81 in Virginia take at least four hours to clear.
Why Do So Many Car Accidents Take Place on I-81?
here are several different factors that come together to make I-81 a particularly dangerous stretch of Virginia roadway. The main contributing factors are:
- General overcrowding/Old infrastructure: As the Virginia Department of Transportation notes, I-81 runs through 21 of the state’s towns and cities. It also connects to five other interstates along the way. In addition to this, I-81 runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most visited national park in the country. Due to these factors, drivers encounter a huge amount of traffic made up of all types of vehicles. The roadway often becomes congested, raising the risk of rear-end and chain-reaction accidents. According to prevailing wisdom, this is because more lanes are clearly needed. This may seem like an obvious solution, but it’s wrong. The majority of I-81 has no need for additional lanes. The statistics say so. Traffic on I-81 has not grown by any statistically significant amount in decades. The statistics say that too. The overwhelming majority of I-81 accidents take place near or at interchanges. Those interchanges that have recently been restructured have shown a significant decrease in accidents for that immediate area.
- Heavy truck traffic: The one thing that really makes I-81 distinctive is the large number of commercial trucks that travel on it. A report published by VDOT shows that I-81 has the highest per capita commercial truck volume in the state of Virginia. Millions of commercial trucks use this interstate all year long, hauling billions of dollars in freight. Sadly, the increased amount of commercial trucks leads to increases in the percentage of commercial truck accidents. About 26% of all vehicle accidents on I-81 in any given year involve oversized commercial trucks, the highest rate for any interstate route in Virginia.
- Weather and road conditions: I-81 passes through Virginia’s mountainous landscape. So, as you drive, you encounter numerous hairpin turns and steep grades. Even in ideal weather conditions, driving here can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, inclement weather, like ice, snow, and heavy fog is very common in the region through which I-81 passes, and these weather conditions greatly increase the odds of being involved in a serious car accident.
Where Can I Get a Copy of My Virginia Police Accident Report?
If you are involved in a Virginia traffic accident, you need to inform the police right away. Do not let the other driver talk you into not getting law enforcement involved. After you notify the authorities, a police officer should respond in a reasonable amount of time. Once they arrive, they can secure the scene, direct traffic, and perform an accident investigation. Then, the responding officer will draft a car accident report if the accident caused:
- Property damage totaling more than $1,500
Your car accident report will contain the basic facts of your car accident, as well as plenty of other important information. The crash report will also help your Virginia I-81 car accident attorney get to work conducting their own investigation into the cause of your accident.
After the officer completes his investigation into your accident, he has 24 hours to forward the written report to the Virginia DMV. This means, in order to obtain a copy of your Virginia car accident report, you will have to get in touch with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
The DMV maintains copies of all accident reports for a minimum of three years after they are filed. You are able to request a copy of a report by submitting a completed Information Request Form CRD 93 or by making a written request that includes, at a minimum, the following information:
- Your name
- Your involvement (driver, pedestrian, passenger, et al.)
- Time and date the accident occurred
- Your social security or driver’s license number, only if you were a driver
- Name of the other driver involved in the accident
- Where the crash took place
You can submit your written request or the completed form in person at a DMV office, or mail it to:
Custom Records Work Center, Room 514
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269.
Each copy of the crash report will cost you $8. If you submit your form or written request via mail, you will have to include a money order or a check for the correct amount. The DMV does not accept cash.
In certain cases, you might be able to get a copy of your accident report by contacting the county sheriff or city police department who responded to the scene directly. Following an I-81 accident, however, your report was most likely prepared by a state trooper, meaning the DMV is the only place where you can get a copy.
You should request a copy of your accident report as soon as possible. When you report the crash to your insurance carrier, they might ask you to send them a copy of the report. You should also have a copy to bring to your free consultation with an Interstate 81 car accident attorney.
If you are having problems obtaining a copy of your police accident report, our legal team can help. Lawyers are expressly authorized by Virginia law to order copies of police accident reports on behalf of their clients.
Since your police crash report will play an important role in your pursuits of both compensation and justice, it is also important to know what information the report contains.
What Information is on a Virginia Police Crash Report?
Virginia police use Form FR300P for car accident reports. It contains multiple different sections and contains details that fall under the following headings:
- Basic crash details: This is the very top section of the report. It contains the location, date, and time of the crash.
- Vehicle occupant/Vehicle information: This is the section where you will find the names, driver’s license numbers, and contact details of every driver involved in the crash. You will also find the names of the vehicle owners’ as well as their respective insurance providers. The report will also indicate whether or not any of the drivers were charged with an offense and whether anyone was injured or killed.
- Additional information: This third section is where notes will be provided regarding anything about the driver, the vehicles, the weather, or other factors that might have contributed to the accident. For example, if the responding officer comes to the conclusion that distracted driving was involved, there are boxes on the form that he can check off to indicate the nature of the distraction. The crash report will also show whether or not the police determined that factors like being intoxicated or speeding contributed to the incident.
- Accident description and diagram: In the financial section of the crash report, the police officer will provide a diagram depicting the accident scene and supply a short narrative.
As your car accident case progresses, you might find that the accident report includes erroneous information. For example, the pictures you took at the scene show that the officer’s illustration is incorrect. Your Virginia I-81 car accident lawyer can help you correct any inaccurate information in your police report.