RICHMOND – As travelers plan their vacations and pack their bags for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, Virginia State Police is urging motorists to make sure traffic safety is at the top of their agenda. Already this year, 280 individuals, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and motorcyclists, have lost their lives in traffic crashes. The startling number comes on the heels of an almost 11 percent increase in traffic deaths during 2017.
“Last year, 843 people were killed on Virginia’s highways. On average, that’s more than two people a day, 16 people a week and 70 people a month. But no matter how you count these tragic incidents, there are just too many,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The sad fact is that many traffic crashes are preventable, but in order to prevent them we all have to do our part by buckling up, complying with speed limits, eliminating distractions and never driving impaired.”
To ensure the Memorial Day holiday is as safe as possible, Virginia State Police will increase patrols during the long holiday weekend. Beginning Friday, May 25, 2018, VSP will join law enforcement around the country for Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), 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 2018 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 25, 2018, and continues through midnight Monday, May 28, 2018.
During the 2017 Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E initiative, Virginia troopers arrested 109 drunk drivers, cited 10,337 speeders and 2,395 reckless drivers, and issued 250 citations for child seat violations. They also cited 820 individuals for failing to wear a seat belt.
The 2018 Memorial Day weekend falls during the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, and state police troopers will be vigilant in their efforts to increase seat belt usage for travelers of all ages. The two-week concentrated education and enforcement initiative began last Monday and runs through Sunday, June 3, 2018.
Of the 843 total traffic deaths last year throughout Virginia, 351 were unrestrained.
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, then 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 because a driver failed to heed the “Move Over” law.
To raise awareness of this law and the impact it has on first responders and highway safety workers, Virginia State Police has coordinated the 2nd Annual National “Move Over” Tweet-Along. Over a 24-hour period on Friday, May 25, 2018, public safety agencies, departments of transportation and numerous other local and state agencies from across the country will inundate Twitter with the “Move Over” message using hashtag #MoveOver18.