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Police: Traffic fatalities declined in 2008

Only one person died on Pulaski County roads in 2008, keeping with a statewide trend that saw automobile fatalities decline sharply over the past 12 months.
“That shows we’re going in the right direction,” said First Sgt. Mike Honaker with the Virginia State Police office in Dublin. “Now, I’d like to see us make it through 2009 without any fatalities.
According to Virginia Traffic Crash Facts reports, Pulaski County has recorded four traffic fatalities each year since 2000, with the exception of nine in 2002 and eight in 2007.
The Traffic Crash Facts reports are compiled annually through the cooperation of the State Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia Department of Transportation. They are available online at www.dmvnow.com.
Honaker said the sad fact is that the “common denominators” leading to traffic fatalities (speeding, intoxicated driving and failure to use safety belts) remain the same each year.
“It would be easy to reduce fatalities if everyone would adhere to those standard principals” – wearing a seatbelt, obeying the speed limit and not mixing alcohol and automobiles, Honaker said.
In fact, alcohol is alleged to be a factor in the only fatality recorded in Pulaski County in 2008.
Jerry Wayne Viars, 35, of Major Grahams Road at Max Meadows recently was charged with involuntary manslaughter in a Sept. 28 wreck that claimed the life of motorcyclist Shawn Brent Gerald, 28, of Suthpin Road in Willis
The statute under which Viars is charged alleges Viars was driving under the influence of alcohol when he attempted to make a left turn from Route 11 onto Round House Road in Fairlawn and pulled into the path of Gerald’s motorcycle.
Of course, Honaker acknowledged, there are always factors that are outside a drivers’ control that can lead to a crash, such as deer running into the road.
However, in the majority of incidents involving fatalities, he said the contributing factor was controllable.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the people who die are the ones who weren’t doing anything wrong,” he added.
According to a press release from State Police main headquarters in Richmond, traffic fatalities statewide “declined sharply” in Virginia for the first time in 16 years during 2008.
According to preliminary figures, the year closed with 808 reported deaths, compared to 1,026 in 2007.
“What a difference we’ve seen in the last 12 months on Virginia’s highways and we are certainly encouraged with the drastic drop in traffic fatalities,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of Virginia State Police.
During the New Year’s holiday weekend, a preliminary count indicates four people lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia’s roads.
That is one of the lowest fatality counts for a New Year’s holiday weekend in the last decade.
The statistical counting period began at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and ended at midnight Jan. 4.
Alcohol was a factor in one of the fatal crashes and failure to wear safety restraints was a factor in all four, according to State Police.
During the 2007-2008 New Year’s holiday weekend, 14 people were killed in traffic crashes statewide.
Over the 2008 Christmas holiday weekend (Dec. 24 to Dec. 28), six people lost their lives on state roads.
Alcohol was a factor in one crash and safety belts were not used in three crashes.
The last time Virginia experienced a number this low during the Christmas holiday was in 1998 when six people were killed in traffic collisions.

Police: Traffic fatalities declined in 2008

Only one person died on Pulaski County roads in 2008, keeping with a statewide trend that saw automobile fatalities decline sharply over the past 12 months.
“That shows we’re going in the right direction,” said First Sgt. Mike Honaker with the Virginia State Police office in Dublin. “Now, I’d like to see us make it through 2009 without any fatalities.
According to Virginia Traffic Crash Facts reports, Pulaski County has recorded four traffic fatalities each year since 2000, with the exception of nine in 2002 and eight in 2007.
The Traffic Crash Facts reports are compiled annually through the cooperation of the State Police, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia Department of Transportation. They are available online at www.dmvnow.com.
Honaker said the sad fact is that the “common denominators” leading to traffic fatalities (speeding, intoxicated driving and failure to use safety belts) remain the same each year.
“It would be easy to reduce fatalities if everyone would adhere to those standard principals” – wearing a seatbelt, obeying the speed limit and not mixing alcohol and automobiles, Honaker said.
In fact, alcohol is alleged to be a factor in the only fatality recorded in Pulaski County in 2008.
Jerry Wayne Viars, 35, of Major Grahams Road at Max Meadows recently was charged with involuntary manslaughter in a Sept. 28 wreck that claimed the life of motorcyclist Shawn Brent Gerald, 28, of Suthpin Road in Willis
The statute under which Viars is charged alleges Viars was driving under the influence of alcohol when he attempted to make a left turn from Route 11 onto Round House Road in Fairlawn and pulled into the path of Gerald’s motorcycle.
Of course, Honaker acknowledged, there are always factors that are outside a drivers’ control that can lead to a crash, such as deer running into the road.
However, in the majority of incidents involving fatalities, he said the contributing factor was controllable.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the people who die are the ones who weren’t doing anything wrong,” he added.
According to a press release from State Police main headquarters in Richmond, traffic fatalities statewide “declined sharply” in Virginia for the first time in 16 years during 2008.
According to preliminary figures, the year closed with 808 reported deaths, compared to 1,026 in 2007.
“What a difference we’ve seen in the last 12 months on Virginia’s highways and we are certainly encouraged with the drastic drop in traffic fatalities,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of Virginia State Police.
During the New Year’s holiday weekend, a preliminary count indicates four people lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia’s roads.
That is one of the lowest fatality counts for a New Year’s holiday weekend in the last decade.
The statistical counting period began at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and ended at midnight Jan. 4.
Alcohol was a factor in one of the fatal crashes and failure to wear safety restraints was a factor in all four, according to State Police.
During the 2007-2008 New Year’s holiday weekend, 14 people were killed in traffic crashes statewide.
Over the 2008 Christmas holiday weekend (Dec. 24 to Dec. 28), six people lost their lives on state roads.
Alcohol was a factor in one crash and safety belts were not used in three crashes.
The last time Virginia experienced a number this low during the Christmas holiday was in 1998 when six people were killed in traffic collisions.