The good news is that the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Leesburg and Manassas and the towns of Manassas Park and Vienna look like they're going to get through 1982 without a single alcohol-related traffic fatality.

Knock on wood.

The bad news is that, sadly, the rest of Northern Virginia hasn't been so fortunate.

Fortune plays a role in such things, no doubt about it. Smaller communities, for instance, have less area and fewer citizens, so they're less likely, statistically speaking, to have a death occur within their borders.

But it is also true that they, their larger neighbors and the state as a whole have stepped up considerably their efforts to bring the drunk driver to justice. And that has played an important role in keeping down all drunk driving deaths in the region as well.

Even so, it's amazing that our highways aren't littered with dead when you consider the following estimates given by Virginia highway officials:

* One out of every four drivers on the road on a typical Friday or Saturday night is under the influence of alcohol.

* Only one out of every 2,000 drunk drivers is ever caught.

Sobering thoughts like those have prompted Virginia and many other states to toughen their anti-drunk driving laws in the last couple of years.

In Virginia alone, state police say that drunk driving arrests are up 12.5 percent for the period from July through October compared to the same period last year. Up from 14,335 to 16,124.

Sixteen thousand, one hundred twenty-four! That's an average of 44 arrests a day, 365 days a year.

You will find at the end of this column a list of nine people who died on Northern Virginia highways. Police say that alcohol was involved in one way or another. There are probably more, but some jurisdictions, such as Prince William and Loudoun counties, told Post researcher Valerie Light they don't keep records on such matters.

Too bad.

But Arlington and Fairfax counties and the city of Alexandria, as well as the six cities and towns I mentioned at the top of this column, do, and they graciously culled through their records to find these names for us so we could demonstrate dramatically to you, in the midst of the holiday season, the cost in human terms.

"I hope it does some good," said Arlington Police Chief William Stover, who said his department had to handle one alcohol-related fatality this year.

As far as he and I are concerned, that's one too many.