Late last week Governor Bob McDonnell announced that traffic fatalities in the Commonwealth had reached a record low in 2010, the second consecutive year in which traffic fatalities have set a record low in Virginia. His announcement was made on December 30th prior to the New Year’s Eve holiday. Unfortunately there were additional road deaths that weekend which increased the total number of fatalities for the year.
State Police said that preliminary reports indicate 14 people died in 12 traffic crashes on Virginia’s highways during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends. Ten people died in eight crashes during the 2010 Christmas holiday statistical counting period; and there are four reported fatal crashes during the 2010-2011 New Year’s holiday statistical counting period. In 2009, 11 people were killed in traffic crashes over a four-day Christmas holiday; five traffic fatalities occurred during the four-day 2009-2010 New Year’s holiday.
The Christmas holiday statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Dec. 24, 2010, and concluded at midnight Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Four of the fatal crashes occurred Dec. 24 in the counties of Campbell, Henrico, Loudoun and Madison. The remaining fatal crashes occurred Dec. 25, in the City of Newport News and the counties of Prince William, Rockingham and Russell. The Prince William County crash claimed the lives of a driver and his two passengers. Alcohol was a factor in at lease four of the crashes.
The four-day New Year’s holiday statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, and concluded at midnight Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The four fatal traffic crashes occurred in the counties of Albemarle, Chesterfield, Gloucester and James City. The Gloucester County fatality claimed the life of a pedestrian. Alcohol was a factor in at least one of the fatal crashes.
In spite of the fatalities over the holidays, Virginia concluded 2010 with 35 fewer traffic deaths in comparison to 2009. In 2010, 721 men, women and children died in traffic crashes on Virginia highways compared to the 756 people who lost their lives in traffic crashes in 2009. This marks the second consecutive year in which traffic fatalities have set a record low in Virginia.
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.”