One traffic fatality reported in immediate D.C. area over holiday weekend; 11 die on Va. roads

December 2, 2013

It appeared that there was no more than one traffic fatality in the District and its suburbs during the long holiday weekend, which is traditionally characterized by automobile travel and heavy highway traffic.

Eleven people were reported killed on Virginia roads during the Thanksgiving weekend, but preliminary information indicated that no traffic fatalities were reported in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington.

The Virginia fatalities nearest to Washington occurred about 50 miles or more from the District, in Frederick, Hanover and Louisa counties, according to the Virginia State Police.

In the Washington region, the only report of a fatality was that of a man who died Nov. 27 after being struck by a vehicle in Prince George’s County.

The number of fatalities in Virginia was three fewer than was reported over the same weekend last year. The 14 deaths in 2012 were the most since 2009, when 16 were reported, the State Police said.

Police said that eight of the 11 people killed across Virginia were not wearing seat belts. Alcohol was described by State Police as a factor in at least four of the fatal crashes.

Traffic specialists say that seat belt use has increased sharply across the nation in recent years. Failure to wear seat belts, however, has been associated with a large number of traffic deaths. More than half the people killed nationwide last year were not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to federal figures, almost a third of the 33,561 fatal crashes in the United States last year involved alcohol. Drinking was cited as a factor in 211 of last year’s Virginia traffic deaths, as well as 160 in Maryland and four in the District.

In a statement Monday, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, called on motorists to “help us make Virginia’s roadways safer by never driving after drinking.”

In reporting the holiday fatalities, the State Police considered the weekend to have begun at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, and continuing through Sunday.

One of the crashes occurred in Norfolk and killed a pedestrian, police said. Two fatal crashes occurred in Mecklenburg County, which stretches as far south as the border with North Carolina. In one of the those, a 76-year-old passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt, was killed Sunday when he was thrown from a vehicle as it turned over several times.

For the most part, weather in the Washington area presented few serious impediments to traffic, but Nov. 27, considered the first day of the weekend, brought heavy rain.

In the one known traffic fatality in the Washington metropolitan area, a 52-year-old Prince George’s County man died Nov. 27 after being hit the previous day by a pickup truck on a road in Forestville, police said.

He was in the road as the pickup was leaving Interstate 495 to merge onto Pennsylvania Avenue, police said.

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