Virginia State Police urges motorists to buckle up, #drivetosavelives this Labor Day weekend

virginia state policeSeven lives have been lost in the past seven days as a result of traffic crashes on Virginia highways. Sadly, four of the six individuals killed in passenger vehicle crashes during that week were unrestrained.

Despite a nine percent decrease in total traffic fatalities during the first eight months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, fatalities involving unrestrained drivers or passengers are on pace with last year, according to preliminary data. Of the 493 total people killed to date in 2018, 220 of them weren’t wearing a seat belt. More than a quarter (58) of those unbelted fatalities were individuals age 21-30.

“It takes just three seconds to buckle up, and the choice you make could be the difference between a life saved and another tragic statistic,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We need your help to prevent fatalities on our roads and continue driving these alarming fatality numbers down. As you travel for the Labor Day holiday, whether it’s across the state or around the corner, buckle up every ride, every time.”

Occupant restraint enforcement is a key component of the Labor Day Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort) traffic safety initiative that begins 12:01 a.m. Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, and concludes Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, at midnight. Virginia State Police will increase patrols to ensure the long holiday weekend is as safe as possible.

The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays, like Labor Day. The program also means that all available Virginia State Police troopers will be on patrol through the holiday weekend.

The 2017 Labor Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 576 individuals who failed to obey the law and buckle up, as well as issuing 181 citations for child safety seat violations on Virginia’s highways statewide. In addition, state police cited 7,447 speeders and 2,092 reckless drivers. A total of 97 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.

There were five traffic fatalities statewide during the four-day statistical counting period (Sept. 1, 2017 – Sept. 4, 2017) of the 2017 Labor Day weekend. None of those individuals were wearing seat belts.

In 2016, there were eight traffic deaths, and in 2015, Virginia experienced 16 fatalities on Virginia’s highways during the holiday weekend.*

With increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If unable to move over, drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.

From 2008 to 2017 nationwide, 126 law enforcement officers working along the roadside were struck by a vehicle and killed because a driver failed to heed the “Move Over” law.

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