Motorists asked to help save lives on highways

Published 7:12 pm Saturday, November 19, 2016

With the most travel-heavy holiday just days away, the Virginia State Police are strongly encouraging motorists to make safe driving a priority during the Thanksgiving weekend. Since Saturday, Nov. 12, traffic crashes in Virginia have claimed the lives of 13 drivers and passengers and three pedestrians. From Jan. 1 to Nov. 17, preliminary reports indicate traffic crashes statewide have resulted in 629 deaths; compared to 661 deaths during the same timeframe in 2015.

“For the year, traffic deaths continue to decline in comparison to this time last year,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “But because of the alarming number of fatalities within just the past week and millions estimated to be traveling nationwide during Thanksgiving weekend, we need everyone to make the effort to drive smart, safe, sober and buckled up when behind the wheel of a vehicle. We are asking everyone to drive to save lives.”

To help prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Combined Accident Reduction Effort. Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints. As a participating agency, State Police will increase its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the commonwealth beginning Wednesday and continuing through midnight Sunday.

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During last year’s Thanksgiving weekend, Virginia State Police troopers:

  • Cited 12,200 speeders
  • Cited 3,080 reckless drivers
  • Arrested 145 drunken drivers
  • Cited 971 safety belt violations and 286 child restraint violations
  • Investigated 1,233 traffic crashes, of which nine were fatal

During the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend, a total of nine people died in traffic crashes. In 2014, there were 8 deaths, and 12 were killed during the 2013 holiday weekend.

With additional troopers and other law enforcement working on Virginia’s highways this holiday weekend, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law. This is a life-saving law intended to protect public safety responders and others who have a responsibility to work the roads. Drivers are required to change to another travel lane or, when unable to change lanes, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.