- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

NORFOLK (AP) — Since 2002, more than 90 people have been injured and 18 killed on the Eastern Shore in accidents involving uninsured or improperly licensed Hispanic workers often driving rogue vehicles, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

The deaths make up about one-fourth of the 71 highway fatalities on the Eastern Shore in that period. The year-round Hispanic population accounts for 5 percent of the region’s 51,000 residents.

The high number of accidents help make a 77-mile stretch of U.S. 13 from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the Maryland state line one of the most treacherous highways in Virginia.

In 2003, for example, the rate of deaths per miles driven on that stretch was more than four times those on Interstates 64, 81 and 95 in Virginia.

In all but three of the fatal accidents in which Hispanics were at the wheel, the drivers had no insurance. In most cases, the vehicles had no inspection stickers, the drivers carried no license and alcohol was a factor.

The majority of the victims among the fatalities were Hispanic.

A Pilot review of State Police auto accident reports for 2002 through 2004 on the Eastern Shore showed that of the 179 accidents involving Hispanic laborers:

• Three-fourths of the drivers had no auto insurance — more than four times the national rate.

• Nearly all the vehicles driven by migrants and other laborers were registered to other drivers.

Tennessee appears to make things easier for many illegal drivers, the Pilot reported.

Several migrants interviewed by the Norfolk newspaper said they got Tennessee tags because they were turned down by Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Tennessee does not require identification or proof of insurance when a vehicle is titled and plates are issued, as long as the motorist pays cash.

Each summer, tomato pickers follow the jobs north to Virginia’s Eastern Shore by the thousands.

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