1 in 3 traffic deaths in Virginia involves alcohol

December 15, 2013

Over a five-year span between 2008 and 2012, 3,863 people lost their lives on roadways throughout Virginia. That’s more than the number of military casualties endured in Afghanistan since 2003.

Of the total number of traffic fatalities over that five-year span, nearly one in three involved a driver who was legally intoxicated according to state guidelines.

These figures come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While the agency tracks traffic data nationwide, it also lists county-by-county totals in the commonwealth.

The highest volume of fatal accidents occurred in Virginia’s cities and dense suburbs, with Fairfax County at the top of the list, followed by Chesterfield, Virginia Beach, Henrico and Prince William.

However, the highest fatality rates in the latest data year, calculated per 100,000 population, were in rural localities.

In 2012, Brunswick County had the highest fatality rate — 64.7 alcohol-related traffic deaths per 100,000 residents. Brunswick was followed by Bath, Nelson, Amelia and Rockbridge counties.

Over a five-year span, the city of Lynchburg saw the largest fatality rate increase, moving from 1.4 deaths per 100,000 population to 11.7 deaths per 100,000 — an eight-fold increase.

Fairfax County had the most crashes involving a drunk driver between 2008 and 2012. They resulted in 52 fatalities, or 30 percent of the total of deaths over the five-year period.

In five Virginia localities, a drunk driver was behind the wheel in every single fatal accident. Those include Craig and Galax counties and the cities of Franklin, Lexington and Manassas Park.

Brunswick, Rockbridge and Amelia counties saw the largest rate increase in drunk-driving fatalities; they increased by nearly five times in Brunswick and Rockbridge counties, while crashes tripled in Amelia.

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