Slow down

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

If you work just about anywhere east of Suffolk and you didn’t see them on the roads yesterday, you’re almost guaranteed to see extra Virginia State Troopers along the way there or home today.

The Virginia State Police kicked off the second phase of Operation Air, Land and Speed on Thursday. The campaign’s purpose, according to the state police, is “to save lives by preventing traffic fatalities and reminding drivers to buckle up and slow down through high visibility and strict enforcement.”

That may seem like a lot of goals for a two-day enforcement program, but they’re all related to one vital purpose: to improve the safety of Virginia’s roads, especially along Interstate 64. The entire length of that road will benefit from increased police monitoring during the campaign, police said in a statement this week.

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Virginia had 1,027 traffic fatalities during 2007, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fully one-third of those were speed-related. Another third involved drivers who were legally drunk, but who got behind the wheel anyway.

That’s right. Two-thirds of the people who died on Virginia’s roads in 2007 were the victims of accidents that very likely could have been avoided.

If you see the flashing blue lights of a trooper’s car along Interstate 64, remember that statistic — and take your foot off the gas pedal.