State Police urging Virginians to #Drive2SaveLives this Labor Day weekend
In the past seven days, 15 people have died in traffic crashes on Virginia highways across the Commonwealth. That alarming death toll includes drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and a 9-year-old bicyclist. Tragically, this year is proving to be a deadly one for Virginia’s highways. As of Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, there have been 529 reported traffic deaths in Virginia, compared to 477 this same date last year.
“The fact that we have lost 50 more lives in traffic crashes this year than in 2016 should be of major concern for all Virginians, especially as we head into the heavily-traveled Labor Day weekend,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “State police will have all available troopers out on patrol for the extended holiday weekend, but we need every driver and passenger committed to also doing their part to make their travels as safe as possible.”
Travelers can expect to see more stationary and roving patrols by Virginia State Police troopers as part of the Department’s participation in the annual Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.) program. Operation CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program throughout the Commonwealth began Friday morning, Sep. 1, 2017, at 12:01 a.m. and continues through midnight Monday, Sept. 4, 2017.
Last year, Virginia experienced a drop in traffic deaths during the four-day holiday counting period. In 2016, there eight traffic deaths, whereas in 2015 there were 16 fatal crashes during the Labor Day weekend. In addition to investigating 707 total traffic crashes during the 2016 holiday weekend, State Police stopped 8,676 speeders and 2,772 reckless drivers. Troopers cited 739 safety belt violations and 210 child safety seat violations.
Also of concentration this Labor Day weekend is impaired driving. State police is joining nearly 200 local law enforcement agencies to participate in the 2017 Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). Last year’s Labor Day weekend netted 101 DUI arrests by Virginia troopers.
“We are encouraging Virginians to ‘Drive to Save Lives’ this holiday weekend and on through the remainder of 2017, so we can hopefully turn around this distressing increase in traffic deaths,” said Colonel Flaherty. “Saving a life happens when you buckle up, don’t drive distracted, share the road, and be responsible by never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”