NEW BEDFORD — With the holiday season officially here, Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn III is calling attention to the rapid increase in the number of motor vehicle fatalities plaguing Bristol County.

According to state police statistics, 24 people have lost their lives as a result of motor vehicle crashes in Bristol County. Six of these fatalities occurred on Interstate Highways that run through Bristol County (Rte. 95=3, Rte. 195=2, Rte. 495 = 1) and the other 17 happened on local roads and state highways, including three on Route 24 during the past few weeks.

To put the rising number of motor vehicle fatalities in Bristol County during the past two-and-a-half months into context; there were a total of 25 motor vehicle deaths in the county from January 1, 2019, through September 2, 2019. This means Bristol County has seen essentially the same number of motor vehicle deaths during the last two-plus months than it had during the previous eight months of the year.

"Based upon the rash of motor vehicle fatalities recently, it is becoming increasingly clear that people are very distracted while driving and are simply driving too aggressively. Unfortunately, this can have tragic consequences that families and friends have to live with forever,” District Attorney Quinn said.

District Attorney Quinn is hopeful that legislation passed by the Legislature last week which will ban the use of handheld devices by drivers on Massachusetts roadways will make a significant impact on the high number of motor vehicle fatalities in Bristol County.

The District Attorney’s office also wants to inform the public about the increased potential for jail or prison time when leaving the scene of an accident where death or personal injury has occurred. There are many potential scenarios where a driver would not be charged with a crime even when death or injury results. But once a driver flees from a crash and does not contact the police, the incident automatically becomes a serious crime that carries mandatory minimum jail or prison sentences. Even in cases where a driver would be charged with misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide for their negligence, the potential punishment to that driver increases substantially when they flee.

The District Attorney’s office is urging people involved in crashes to not put themselves in serious jeopardy by leaving the scene of accidents. Leaving the scene not only puts you in a position where you are likely to be incarcerated, but it also puts the families and friends of victims in heart-wrenching situations of prolonged grief.