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Virginia State Police urge safe driving this Memorial Day weekend

policecar3With the start of the 2015 Click It or Ticket (CIOT) spring mobilization campaign, the Virginia State Police is taking this opportunity to remind motorists of the need to always buckle up when driving and/or riding in a vehicle. The two-week, concentrated educational and enforcement initiative began Monday, May 18, 2015, and runs through Sunday, May 31, 2015. The annual, national Click It or Ticket campaign combines high visibility enforcement of seat belt and child safety seat laws with outreach and education.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), those who use a seat belt are 45 percent less likely to be fatally injured in a crash. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data shows that younger males driving at night were most likely to die in an unbelted fatal crash in Virginia last year: • 60 percent of those who died in unbelted crashes (154) were ages 21 to 50 • 48 percent of the unbelted fatalities (122) occurred between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. • Of unbelted fatalities, 65 percent were males

“The state police cannot stress enough the importance of always using a seat belt when on the road,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Buckling up takes just seconds of you and your passengers’ time and yet can make the difference of a lifetime if and when one is involved in a crash. As we head into the Memorial Day weekend and summer travel season, all motorists are reminded to #DrivetoSaveLives whether it’s to school, work, the store, the beach or the mountains. Drive like your life depends on it.”

Since the 2015 Memorial Day holiday weekend falls within this year’s CIOT campaign, state police troopers will be even more vigilant in their efforts to increase seat belt usage among adults, teenagers and children. Occupant restraint enforcement is a key component of the Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) traffic safety initiative that begins 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 22, 2015, and concludes Monday, May 25, 2015, 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 program also means that all available Virginia State Police troopers will be on patrol through the holiday weekend.

The 2014 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 1,228 individuals who failed to obey the law and buckle up, as well as issuing 340 citations for child safety seat violations on Virginia’s highways statewide. In addition, state police cited 13,717 speeders and 3,154 reckless drivers. A total of 115 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.

There were eight fatal crashes statewide during last year’s four-day statistical counting period for Memorial Day weekend. In 2013, there were nine fatal crashes and in 2012, Virginia experienced 11 fatal crashes during the 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. 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.