Fatality numbers falling despite increase in drivers, vehicles - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Fatality numbers falling despite increase in drivers, vehicles

Press release from Office of Governor Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that traffic fatalities will reach a record low in 2010, the second consecutive year in which traffic fatalities have reached a record low in Virginia. As of today, there were 715 road deaths reported statewide compared to 750 on this same date last year; a 5% decrease from 2009 and a 30% decrease from a record high of 1,026 traffic fatalities in 2007.

"Every traffic death has a tragic impact on family members, friends and co-workers," said Governor McDonnell. "It is encouraging to continue to see a decline in traffic deaths in the Commonwealth which indicates that Virginians are making a conscious effort to make safe driving a priority. It is my hope that Virginia's safety partners and drivers will continue to work together to further this positive trend throughout 2011."

Many factors may have contributed to the reduction in traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. Some of the lives saved can be attributed to the coordinated efforts by many state government agencies to reduce the Commonwealth's traffic fatalities. This year, DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia State Police and local law enforcement joined together for "Checkpoint Strikeforce," an annual media and enforcement campaign aimed at preventing drunk driving; as well as with VDOT for "Operation Air, Land and Speed," an enforcement effort conducted periodically on Virginia's interstates. DMV and State Police also partnered with local law enforcement for the periodic "Click It or Ticket" safety belt enforcement mobilization.

While the downward trend in traffic deaths is positive, safety experts warn motorists not to become complacent. "We must remain vigilant on our roadways since there's no such thing as an 'acceptable' number of traffic deaths, except zero," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "We must remember that according to the latest data, a crash occurs on our roadways every 4.5 minutes resulting in more than two lives being lost and 173 people being injured every day in Virginia."

The 715 traffic fatalities so far in Virginia this year is the lowest number in one year since traffic deaths began being recorded in 1966.  However, Virginia State Police Superintendent, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, advises motorists to buckle up, avoid distractions, obey the speed limit and not to drive impaired. "Virginians must make smart decisions and take responsible actions while driving on our roads," he said. "The loss of life on our highways is unfortunate and needless. The goal for all of us should be to prevent crashes and change our driving behaviors for the better."

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