SMITHFIELD, Va. — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is asking the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to designate a portion of State Route 10 in Virginia as a highway safety corridor pursuant to Va. Code 33.2-253.
According to statement from PETA, the stretch of State Route 10 between U.S. 58 in Suffolk and State Route 666 in Isle of White County “has seen more crashes of trucks carrying animals raised for their flesh than a similar length of any other road in the country.” PETA has documented at least nine rollovers — within the proposed corridor — of Smithfield Foods-bound trucks hauling live pigs. The most recent rollover was in May 2021.
“We urge VDOT to establish a safety corridor because all these crashes leave pigs mangled and bloody, and those who aren’t killed on impact suffer for hours, crying out from overturned trailers,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, senior vice president of PETA. “PETA is calling on officials to make this portion of highway safer for everyone, (and calling on) anyone disturbed by animals suffering in trucks and on the roadside — or in slaughterhouses — to go vegan.”
Daniel Paden, vice president of evidence analysis for PETA, on June 21 sent a letter to VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich asking the agency to designate that portion of the road a highway safety corridor.
According to Paden’s letter, a representative for Smithfield Foods “admitted that wrecks of trucks carrying live pigs in this area occur ‘all the time,’ and a former chief of the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department said that he had responded to more than 100 such crashes.”
The letter notes the danger to livestock haulers, pointing to the death of truck driver William Lewis, who was killed in April 1998, and adding that “at least half of the other crashes of this nature that PETA has documented on SR 10 have injured the truck driver, if not others.”
In addition, the letter says, the accidents along State Route 10 result in significant demands on first responders.
“Ejected animals must be corralled. Others are eventually shot on site, and dead ones must be dumped into trucks. Trailers need to be pulled upright, and utility lines and other damaged property must be addressed. Traffic is often diverted for many hours,” the letter reads, adding that “each crash causes profound suffering for scores of animals.”
In a November 2020 wreck, the letter continues, “at least 160 pigs were trapped in an overturned trailer for at least four hours before being removed, according to police records.” After separate crashes in September 2008 and August 2019, “screaming pigs lay on top of one another for hours in a trailer, only for workers to strike and force them onto another trailer,” the letter states, adding that incidents in October 2011 and November 2013 resulted in the death of 127 animals.
“After drivers crashed in October 2005 and March 2004, pigs were left for hours with severe injuries and even shot in the head repeatedly,” the letter continues.
Paden’s letter also points out a statement attributed to the editorial board of The Virginian-Pilot: “Just because the animals are destined for the dinner plate, that’s no reason to allow needless suffering on the side of our highways.”
Following the May 2021 crash, Paden says, owners and employees of businesses along the proposed corridor “expressed frustration” concerning the accidents.
The letter concludes, “We respectfully ask that the agency designate this part of SR 10 a highway safety corridor to encourage everyone to exercise extra caution while driving through it. Erecting signs warning of the penalties for speeding and criminal driving violations there, along with an increased police presence, would make this stretch of Virginia’s roads safer for all.”
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