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ArlingtonTransportationRegional drunk-driving data show ups, downs

Regional drunk-driving data show ups, downs

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The number of alcohol- and drug-related traffic fatalities decreased by 10 percent between 2020 and 2021 in the metropolitan Washington area, but other indicators – alcohol-related injuries, crashes and arrests – increased during the same period.

That’s according to the 30th annual “How Safe Are Our Roads?” report, prepared by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for the non-profit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).

“We are grateful to see the progress made in the number of fatalities in our region, but there is still a lot of work to do” said WRAP president Kurt Erickson. “We are still averaging 28 DUI arrests and 10 drunk-driving crashes every single day.”

The 10-percent decrease in fatalities brings the total to its lowest in the region in a half-decade, and came while overall traffic fatalities in the region increased more than 17 percent between 2020 and 2021, owing in part to a resumption of more normal driving patterns that were impacted by the arrival of COVID in the spring of 2020.


“The timing of this report is poignant as we enter the holiday season, a time of year when we see increases in impaired driving,” said COG Police Chiefs Committee chair Russell Hamill III. “Around this time, we see as many as nearly half of all traffic deaths involve drunk drivers.”

Findings from the report include:

• Regional alcohol- and/or drug-impaired traffic fatalities decreased from 95 to 85 between 2020 and 2021.

• Injuries: Regional alcohol and/or drug-related traffic injuries increased 17 percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 1,298 to 1,522 such injuries).

• Crashes: Regional traffic crashes attributed to alcohol and/or drugs increased 14 percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 3,292 to 3,739 such crashes).

• Arrests: Local arrests for either driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) increased 3.7 percent between 2020 and 2021 (from 9,882 to 10,248).

• Nearly one-quarter (24.9%) of the Washington region’s traffic fatalities last year involved impaired drivers.

For the full report, see the Website at https://wrap.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/HSAOR_2022_Final_.pdf.

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