Drunk-Driving Deaths Down but Injuries Up

Times Staff Writer

The number of people killed in drunk driver-related accidents in the San Fernando Valley during 1984 dropped 32% from the previous year, but major injuries in accidents involving intoxicated drivers rose 26%, according to Los Angeles Police Department statistics released Thursday.

The department's Valley Traffic Division also said that the number of drivers arrested for drunk driving during the year dropped almost 20%, although authorities attributed the decrease to a temporary lapse in enforcement during the Olympics rather than increased caution by motorists.

Motorists Not Serious

Although police officials expressed pleasure at the decrease in fatalities and arrests, they noted that the rise in injuries seemed to indicate that motorists were not taking publicity about drunk driving and pleas from law-enforcement officials seriously.

"The numbers seem to point out society's unwillingness to accept the tragedy, devastation and trauma caused by impaired driving," said Sgt. Dennis Zine of the Valley Traffic Division. "There is just a whole lot more work and education to be done."

17 Deaths in 1984

Seventeen people were killed in drunk driving-related accidents during 1984, down from 25 in 1983, a drop of 32%. Serious and critical injuries in drunk driving-related accidents were sustained by 189 people during the year, 26% more than the 149 in 1983.

Drunk drivers caused 21.5% of the major-injury accidents in the Valley in 1984, Zine said. (The department defines "major" as an accident involving broken bones or other "trauma" to the body.)

A total of 877 major-injury accidents were reported in 1984, as opposed to 823 in 1983, an increase of 6.6%.

Of the 17 drunk driver-related fatalities last year, six occurred during the operation of the division's drunk-driving holiday task force from Nov. 23 through Dec. 31. During that holiday period last year, 969 were arrested for drunk driving, as opposed to 658 in 1983.

However, the number of drunk drivers arrested in 1984 dropped 18.7%, from 6,722 to 5,461, Zine said. He said the decrease was principally attributable to the Summer Olympics period, when officers normally assigned to Valley traffic were reassigned.

In other categories, police reported a 24.9% increase in moving violations, from 83,899 to 104,113. Total accidents reported in the Valley increased .5%, from 14,288 to 14,354.

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