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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Office of the Governor
Contact: Taylor Thornley
Phone: (804) 225-4262
E-mail: Taylor.Thornley@Governor.Virginia.Gov

Department of Motor Vehicles
Contact: Melanie Stokes
Phone: (804) 367-6623
E-mail: Melanie.Stokes@DMV.Virginia.Gov

Virginia State Police
Contact: Corinne Geller
Phone: (804) 674-2789
E-mail: Corinne.Geller@VSP.Virginia.Gov

Governor McDonnell Announces Decrease in Traffic Deaths
Fatality Numbers Falling Despite Increase in Drivers, Vehicles

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell today announced that traffic fatalities will reach a record low in 2010 for the second consecutive year in Virginia. As of today, there were 715 road deaths reported statewide compared to 750 on this same date last year; a 5 percent decrease from 2009 and a 30 percent 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. "So to see more than 30 fewer traffic deaths than last year in the Commonwealth is encouraging and indicates that Virginians are making a conscious effort to make safe driving a priority. Virginia's safety partners and drivers will need to 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. For example, DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia State Police, and local law enforcement join together for Checkpoint Strikeforce, an annual media and enforcement campaign aimed at preventing drunk driving; and with VDOT for Operation Air, Land and Speed, an enforcement effort conducted periodically on Virginia's interstates. DMV and State Police also partner 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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