For Immediate Release:
June 21, 2021
Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382
Smithfield, Va. – Because a stretch of State Route (SR) 10 has seen more crashes of trucks carrying animals raised for their flesh than a similar length of any other road in the country, PETA sent an urgent letter this morning to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Commissioner Stephen Brich asking the agency to designate that portion of the road a highway safety corridor. PETA has documented at least nine rollovers in the proposed corridor of Smithfield Foods–bound trucks hauling live pigs, the most recent of which was just last month.
“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,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on officials to make this portion of highway safer for everyone and on anyone disturbed by animals suffering in trucks and on the roadside—or in slaughterhouses—to go vegan.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Brich follows.
June 21, 2021
Stephen C. Brich, P.E.
Virginia Department of Transportation
Dear Commissioner Brich:
We hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing on behalf of PETA to ask that your agency consider designating State Route (SR) 10, between U.S. Route 58 in Suffolk and SR 666 in Isle of Wight County, a highway safety corridor pursuant to Va. Code § 33.2-253.
This portion of SR 10 has been the site of more crashes of tractor-trailers hauling livestock than a similar length of any other road in the nation—most recently on May 24, 2021. PETA has documented at least nine such tractor-trailer rollovers in the proposed corridor. A Smithfield Foods representative 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 (attached).
These crashes are severe. William Lewis, 55, was killed in April 1998 when he ran off SR 10 and overturned in a ditch while hauling pigs (attached). 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 wrecks place 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.
Each crash causes profound suffering for scores of animals. After a November 2020 wreck, at least 160 pigs were trapped in an overturned trailer for at least four hours before being removed, according to police records. Following the August 2019 crash of a truck at the SR 10/U.S. 58 juncture, screaming pigs lay on top of one another for hours in a trailer, only for workers to strike and force them onto another trailer—as also occurred after a September 2008 wreck. November 2013 and October 2011 incidents killed 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.
Furthermore, these crashes have long sparked public interest. The Virginian-Pilot editorial board declared, “[J]ust because the animals are destined for the dinner plate, that’s no reason to allow needless suffering on the side of our highways” (attached). After the latest crash in May, those who own and work at businesses in the proposed corridor expressed frustration, and one manager told WVEC, “It would be nice if [the crashes] would stop happening.” PETA and our more than 130,000 members and supporters in the Commonwealth have a strong interest in this subject as well.
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.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know how we can be of assistance. I look forward to the agency’s response.
Vice President of Evidence Analysis