Va. Sees Drop in Drunk Driving Fatalities for Second Straight Year

August 26, 2005

As countless Virginians prepare to hit the highways for the long Labor Day weekend – historically the third deadliest DUI holiday of the year – Virginia kicked-off Checkpoint Strikeforce, a 5-month, statewide campaign to raise public awareness about drunk driving.

Virginia law enforcement agencies will hold a minimum of one sobriety checkpoint once a week across the state throughout the rest of 2005.

The campaign was launched this week from atop the helipad of the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, the hospital entry-point for too many victims of drunk driving.

Data released at the event indicates that Virginia is making major strides in combating drinking and driving with Checkpoint Strikeforce and other initiatives. In 2004, Virginia saw 343 persons die in alcohol related crashes as compared to 361 in 2003 (a 5 percent decrease) and 375 in 2002.

“While every death is a tragedy, the decline in drunken driving fatalities is still encouraging,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty superintendent of the Virginia State Police. “While Virginia’s fight to eliminate drunk driving fatalities is far from over, this decrease underscores the effectiveness of law enforcement and the public’s commitment to the Checkpoint Strikeforce program.” During the campaign, Virginia law enforcement agencies will hold a minimum of one sobriety checkpoint a week across the state.

Studies performed for the Arlington, Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reportedly show that sobriety checkpoints can reduce alcohol-related crashes by as much as 20 percent. Deploying sobriety checkpoints and patrols when and where drunk driving is most likely to occur both deters motorists from driving under the
influence and arrests those who do so.

Since Checkpoint Strikeforce’s inception in 2002, nearly a quarter of a
million (240,753) drivers in Virginia have been stopped at sobriety

In addition to sobriety checkpoints, Checkpoint Strikeforce is also
employing resonant ads in an advertising effort to remind citizens of the many dangers and consequences of impaired driving.

Throughout the next five months, more than 15,000 radio spots will run on 62 radio stations in Virginia. The campaign is supported locally by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

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