With return to roads for Memorial Day, motorists urged to keep safety top of mind
With travel forecasts calling for a significant increase for the Memorial Day weekend from 2020, the Virginia State Police is encouraging motorists to bring their “Safety First” mindset to the roadways.
This includes obeying all posted speed limits, driving for conditions, buckling up and ditching distractions. Traffic safety is imperative when considering that 22 lives have been lost to 16 reported crashes on Virginia’s highways between Friday, May 21, 2021, and midnight Wednesday, May 26, 2021. Of the 22 traffic fatalities, five were motorcyclists, two were bicyclists and one was a pedestrian. Two of the fatal crashes claimed a total of eight lives.
“As a state of normalcy returns to Virginia’s roadways and families head out for summer adventures, motorists need to remember that as traffic increases so should their vigilance and patience,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “During this holiday weekend, Virginians will see traffic numbers that we haven’t experienced in close to a year. All drivers need to remember to not only comply with posted speed limits, but to also be patient and alert for added congestion on our roads.”
Beginning Friday, May 28, 2021, VSP will join law enforcement around the country for Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. The 2021 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. on May 28 and continues through midnight Monday, May 31, 2021. All available state police troopers and supervisors will be on patrol through the holiday weekend to help keep traffic moving safely and responsibly.
During the 2020 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E initiative, Virginia troopers arrested 70 drunk drivers and cited 2,469 speeders. Troopers issued 224 citations for failing to wear a seat belt and eight individuals lost their lives in traffic crashes. In addition, VSP personnel assisted 1,460 disabled motorists across the Commonwealth during last year’s Memorial Day weekend.
This year, the Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. initiative falls within the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This helps to further emphasize the lifesaving value of seat belts for every person in a vehicle.
“Just within the past six days, 22 people have lost their lives on a Virginia roadway. Preliminary data shows at least eight of those were not wearing a seat belt, to include a 10-year-old boy. Eight lives that may have been saved with the simple click of a seat belt. It’s an easy decision to make – buckle up. And buckle up everyone riding in your vehicle,” said Settle.
With the increased patrols, VSP 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, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.