Data shows fatal, severe alcohol-related crashes are on the rise in Arlington

The number of serious or fatal alcohol-related crashes in Arlington, Virginia, increased in 2023, prompting the chair of the Board of Supervisors to call for a coordinated anti-drunk driving campaign across the D.C. region.

Chair Libby Garvey said the main causes of crashes in the county are speed and intoxication.

The county is working to address speeding by using cameras and changing speed limits along certain roads. But, Garvey said, “the intoxication is something else, and that’s a whole-of-community approach that we need to be taking.”

In 2023, there were 20 severe alcohol-related crashes in Arlington. Five were fatal, according to the county’s 2023 Vision Zero Annual Report. That’s up from the 12 total fatal or severe crashes in 2022.

“We need to get much stronger messaging back out about drunk driving, because people are dying because of it,” Garvey said. “If you’re out having drinks with a friend, or you had a little more than you [should’ve] had, get somebody to drive you home, call an Uber, call a cab, something. Don’t drink and drive.”

One of the recommendations listed in the annual report under “Upcoming 2024 Activities” is finalizing the regionwide, anti-drunk driving project. It’ll be led by Arlington County and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The county, the report said, will also look into enforcement, engagement and education campaigns to address the trend.

“It’s kind of gotten off people’s radar scope with all kinds of things changing, and we need to get that back front-and-center for people,” Garvey said.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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