Fatal traffic crashes rose in the Williamsburg area last year, with James City County seeing almost a threefold increase in deadly accidents between 2016 and 2017, according to figures from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
In all there were 20 fatal crashes combined in Williamsburg and James City and York counties in 2017, compared with 13 in 2016, according to DMV.
While deadly crashes were up in James City County, they declined by almost half in York County, according to DMV.
Williamsburg did not record a fatal crash in either year.
Statewide there were 127,375 crashes resulting in 843 deaths and 65,306 injuries in 2017, according to DMV. In 2016 there were 128,525 crashes that killed 761 people and injured 67,292 more.
In James City County, there were 1,002 crashes resulting in 15 fatalities and 715 injuries, compared with 869 crashes resulting in four fatalities and 522 injuries in 2016, DMV reported.
Among last year’s crashes in James City County were 58 related to alcohol that resulted in seven fatalities and 47 injuries; 145 involving speeding that caused nine deaths and 98 injuries; and 53 in which drivers or passengers were not properly restrained, resulting in nine fatalities and 24 injuries. Some of the fatalities and injuries are counted in more than one category because some crashes involved more than one factor.
The number of licensed drivers in the James City County fell from 50,304 to 48,894 between 2016 and 2017, according to DMV.
Stephanie Williams, spokeswoman for James City County Police, said the department investigated nine fatal crashes last year, with Virginia State Police handling the rest, mainly on Interstate 64. James City County investigated one fatal accident in 2016, she said.
In an effort to promote road safety, James City County Police employs a traffic unit that is composed of a sergeant and three officers, Williams said.
“Among other things, their responsibilities include violation enforcement, traffic safety education efforts, and working with local event coordinators (such as the Jamestown triathlon) to safeguard participants and motorists alike.”
In York County, there were more crashes but fewer fatalities than the year before.
In 2017 there were 1,001 crashes in the county, resulting in five fatalities and 502 injuries. In 2016, the county recorded 920 crashes with nine fatalities and 442 injuries, according to DMV.
Among last year’s crashes in York County were 59 related to alcohol that resulted in one death and 31 injuries; 249 involving speeding that caused one fatality and 107 injuries; and 21 in which drivers or passengers were not properly restrained, resulting in 18 injuries but no deaths. No factors were given for the other roadway deaths.
There were 46,411 licensed drivers in York County in 2017, down from 47,411 in 2016.
Both the number of crashes and injuries declined in Williamsburg between 2016 and 2017. In 2017 there were 209 crashes resulting in 139 injuries, compared with 216 crashes and 149 injuries in 2016.
The last fatal accident in the city happened in 2011, Williamsburg Police spokesman Maj. Greg Riley said. The department makes traffic safety is a department priority, and Williamsburg Police use programs such as “Click it or ticket” to reinforce that message.
Among last year’s crashes in Williamsburg were 11 related to alcohol that resulted in seven injuries; 24 involving speeding that caused 8 injuries; and eight in which drivers or passengers were not properly restrained, resulting in six injuries.
There were 20,009 licensed drivers in Williamsburg in 2017, a slight increase from 19,127 in 2016.
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