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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Friday, April 1, 2011
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Lowest Number of Road Deaths in Virginia Since 1966
Traffic Fatalities Decrease for Three Consecutive Years

RICHMOND - Virginia's traffic fatalities continue to decline in 2011 with a preliminary count of 137 deaths as of April 1, compared to 141 for this same time period in 2010. Similar to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's announcement today that the number of nationwide traffic fatalities in 2010 fell to the lowest levels since 1949, last year's 739 fatalities is the fewest number in Virginia in one year since traffic fatalities began being recorded in 1966.

The record low in 2010 was the third consecutive yearly decrease in Virginia with 756 traffic fatalities in 2009 and 821 in 2008; a 20 percent decrease from a record high of 1,026 traffic deaths in 2007.

Many factors may have contributed to the sustained decrease in roadway deaths since 2007, including improved driver behavior and increased efforts by Virginia's safety advocates. "Virginians are making safe driving a priority," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "And, the coordinated efforts by many state government agencies and their partners to reduce the Commonwealth's traffic fatalities are working."

For example, DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia State Police, local law enforcement and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program join together for Checkpoint Strikeforce, an annual media and enforcement campaign aimed at preventing drunk driving; and with state police and 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 we can all celebrate this positive news, the next time we get behind the wheel, we must remember that each and every driver in Virginia is responsible for keeping our roadways safe," Holcomb said. "A few simple reminders -- buckle up, pay attention and don't drive impaired -- can go a long way in saving lives."

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