State Police: Traffic deaths down slightly over Memorial Day weekend

The 2017 Memorial Day holiday weekend proved safer for those traveling the highways of Virginia in comparison to the 2016 Memorial Day weekend. During the four-day statistical counting period, preliminary numbers report a total of seven drivers and passengers died in six traffic crashes statewide this past holiday weekend. During the same time period in 2016, traffic crashes claimed a total of eight lives on Virginia highways.

policeThe six fatal traffic crashes occurred in the cities of Christiansburg and Norfolk and the counties of Augusta, Bedford, Carroll and Rockingham. Sunday’s fatal crash in Rockingham County claimed the lives of two drivers involved in a head-on collision, both of whom were not wearing seat belts.

State troopers responded to and investigated a total of 652 traffic crashes statewide during the four-day statistical counting period. Of the six passenger vehicle fatalities over the holiday weekend, there were four fatal motorcycle crashes, which is particularly poignant as May is Motorcycle Safety Month. Two of those motorcyclists were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

“The number of traffic deaths on Virginia’s roadways continues to decrease, down 50 percent since 2015; However, even one fatality is too many, especially when taking basic safety precautions can save a life,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We’re asking motorists to make sure they put safety first before they hit the road this summer. Buckle up, put on a helmet, eliminate distractions, put the phone down and never drive drunk or drugged. These things could make the difference in surviving or avoiding a crash all together.”

Virginia State Police also participated in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) over the holiday weekend, which is a traffic safety initiative that began 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 26, 2017, and concluded Monday, May 29, 2017, at midnight. The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays, like Memorial Day.

The 2016 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 10,468 speeders and 2,421 reckless drivers. Troopers cited 828 safety belt violations and 248 child restraint violations. A total of 110 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.

Virginia State Police and law enforcement agencies nationwide also emphasized the importance of “Move Over” laws during the Memorial Day weekend. Virginia State Police organized and participated in a 24-hour Tweet-Along focused on sharing facts, impactful anecdotes and power images to raise awareness of these laws which require motorists to slow down or change lanes when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its flashing lights engaged.

Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

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