Fatalities down; DUI arrests still abundant

By MELINDA
WILLIAMS
melinda@
southwesttimes.com

While traffic fatalities were lower this Independence Day holiday than last year, Virginia State Police arrested nearly one intoxicated driver (DUI) an hour over the two-day holiday.
“Every impaired driver who makes the choice to get behind the wheel of a vehicle puts countless other lives at risk of injury or death,” VSP Superintendent Col. Gary T. Settle said of 42 drunk driving arrests troopers made statewide over a 48-hour period.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports more than 10,000 lives are lost in the U.S. each year due to crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. Drunk-driving fatalities are a third of what they were a decade ago; however, drunk-driving crashes still claim thousands of lives per year.
With July 4 falling in the middle of a week this year, the statistical counting period for the holiday was short — starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 3, and ending at midnight Wednesday, July 4. In 2017, the counting period was twice as long and fatalities (nine) were three times this year’s figure.
According to VSP figures for Independence Day 2017, DUI arrests weren’t much better last year than they were this year. Last year, 114 DUI arrests were made over a 96-hour period. That’s 1.18 drivers per hour, compared to 1.14 per hour this year.
State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) again this year. The program encourages law enforcement agencies to make themselves more visible and increase traffic enforcement during major holidays.
In addition to this year’s DUI arrests, state troopers issued 4,911 speeding summonses; 1,251 summonses for reckless driving, 429 safety belt violations and 114 violations of child restraint laws.
“During these summer months, we ask that all drivers and passengers adopt safe habits like always buckling up, putting down the phone and, of course, never driving impaired,” Settle said. “Those are the first steps toward achieving our goal of zero fatalities. We can get there, but we need everyone’s help to make it a reality.”
According to Virginia Crash Report data, 386 people have died in crashes on Virginia roadways so far this year. Last year, 411 fatalities were recorded during the same timeframe.

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