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Arlington is the safest county in the U.S. by these measures

A crossing guard at an Arlington elementary school (file photo)

Arlington County residents are some of the safest in the country, by at least one measure.

Just 3.8 out of every 100,000 Arlington County residents died either by homicide or in a land transport collision between 2018 and 2022, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a lower death rate than any other county in the nation with a population of at least 100,000 people.

Ryan Radia, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a D.C. libertarian think tank, tweeted his analysis of CDC data last week.

Arlington is a standout in its low traffic fatalities. The county had the lowest proportion of vehicular deaths between 2018 and 2022, at 2.7 out of 100,000. The second-lowest county was Manhattan, at 3.2 deaths.

Arlington ranked ninth in homicide deaths, at a rate of 1.1 per 100,000, among the counties listed.

Both of Arlington’s rates are much lower than the national average. In 2021, 13.7 out of every 100,000 Americans died in a vehicle crash and 7.8 died by homicide, per CDC data.

Radia told ARLnow that Arlington’s high population density might play a role in its low traffic fatality rates. CDC data shows that people living in densely populated areas tend to have lower rates of dying from collisions involving cars, trucks, motorcycles or other land transport vehicles.

For instance, of Manhattan, Staten Island and Hudson County, New Jersey — a county between New York and Newark containing Hoboken, which recently celebrated seven consecutive years without a traffic death — all had some of the lowest death rates.

“Arlington is one of the most densely populated counties in the United States — although not quite as dense as D.C. or Alexandria — and denser areas might tend to have fewer vehicle miles traveled,” Radia noted.

He also pointed to Arlington’s high per capita income, which can correlate with fewer road deaths, as well as its high proportion of people working from home. U.S. Census Bureau data showed that Arlington had the second highest work-from-home rates in the country in 2021.

“People who work from home might spend less time on the road (and thus have lower odds of dying in a traffic collision),” Radia said.

Notably, nearby Loudoun County, which has a lower population density and an extensive network of gravel roads, was also was among the safest counties.

Arlington County is in the midst of a Vision Zero campaign that aims to bring its number of traffic fatalities and severe injuries down to zero by 2030, though some question whether that’s achievable without major changes.

Between 2018 and 2022, according to county data, Arlington saw 20 fatal crashes and 277 causing severe injuries. Five fatal Arlington crashes happened last year, along with 53 crashes involving severe injury.

To reduce road deaths and injuries, the county is working on infrastructure improvements, while increasing traffic enforcement and trying to influence driver behavior.

Although the county tracks crashes and responds with quick-build or capital improvement projects and pilot programs, driver behavior continues to present problems. Speeding, ignoring traffic laws and distracted driving comprise the top three reasons most survey participants reported feeling unsafe when traveling in Arlington.

To that end, the Arlington County Board authorized speed cameras in January 2022, but the county was still in the process of procuring them as of last fall. The Board has also lowered speed limits in some areas.

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