Virginia State Police reminds motorists to be safe for Thanksgiving

policecar3The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, which increases Virginians’ risks of being involved in a serious or deadly traffic crash. As families and friends prepare to gather to give thanks this year, the Virginia State Police reminds motorists to make safety a priority during the holiday weekend. Virginians are reminded to drive to save lives by always buckling up, never driving drunk and avoiding distractions.

During the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 12 people died in traffic crashes across the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the past five years, a total of 63 men, women and children have lost their lives in a traffic crash on Virginia’s highways over the four-day statistical counting period for the Thanksgiving holiday.*

“In 2014, traffic crashes have claimed 619 lives on Virginia’s highways, which averages to about 56 traffic deaths a month,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “This is the time of year when we talk of giving thanks and committing selfless acts of kindness to help others. What better way to put that into action than by driving to save lives every time you’re on the road? Share the road, be alert to motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists, and do not drive aggressively, distracted or drunk. Simply drive to save lives because every life counts.”

Virginia State Police will increase patrols and traffic enforcement efforts in order to prevent traffic deaths and injuries as part of the state police’s participation 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. Motorists can expect to see an increase in troopers throughout the Commonwealth beginning Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, at 12:01 a.m., and continuing through midnight, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014.

During the 2013 Thanksgiving Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, Virginia State Police cited 9,841 speeders and another 2,697 reckless drivers statewide. Troopers arrested 98 impaired drivers and issued 772 seat belt citations. State police also cited 213 child restraint violations. Virginia troopers assisted 3,341 motorists.

In addition, weather-related crashes accounted for 4 percent of fatalities during the Thanksgiving weekend in 2012 nationwide.** With the potential for snow and freezing rain forecasted for the Commonwealth as the holiday approaches, motorists are reminded to plan ahead for possible delays, slow speeds for conditions, always buckle up, and call VDOT’s 511 or go to www.511virginia.org to check road conditions.

With the increase of emergency personnel on the highways, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law. 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, 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.

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