September 16, 2010
Preliminary data indicates traffic deaths for 2010 have decreased slightly compared to fatalities for this same time period in 2009.
As of August 31, there were 481 road deaths so far in 2010, compared to 490 for January 1 through August 31, 2009. Of the 481 deaths this year, most (159) occurred on primary highways and the least amount (62) occurred on interstates in Virginia.
There were 756 traffic fatalities in Virginia in 2009, the lowest number in one year since traffic deaths began being recorded in 1966. The number is nearly a 27 percent decrease in fatalities from the high of 1,026 road deaths in 2007.
Although the decline in traffic fatalities since 2007 is positive information, safety experts caution motorists to remain vigilant.
"A single traffic death can impact hundreds of friends, family members and acquaintances," said Richard D. Holcomb, DMV Commissioner and the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "We will continue to work with the Commonwealth's safety partners to further reduce traffic deaths throughout 2010."
Many factors may be contributing to the reduction in Virginia's traffic crashes, injuries and deaths, including enforcement efforts such as Checkpoint Strikeforce, Operation Air, Land and Speed, and Click It or Ticket.
Of the 481 traffic fatalities so far this year, 213 of those who died were not wearing a seat belt.
"There is no question that seat belts save lives," said John Saunders, Director of DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office. "If you don't wear a seat belt, your chances of dying or being injured in a vehicle crash are significantly higher. The first thing everyone should do when they get into a vehicle is buckle up. It should be automatic."