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Virginia State Police urges motorists to celebrate Independence Day safely

RICHMOND – Virginia highways will be bustling this week as millions of people take to the road for the Independence Day holiday, and Virginia State Police is urging motorists to ensure safety and celebration go hand-in-hand.

In just the first six months of this year, at least 368 individuals, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and motorcyclists, have lost their lives in traffic crashes. Of the 843 fatal crashes on Virginia’s highways last year, 208 involved a distracted driver and 248 were alcohol related.

“Summer days are filled with celebration, including vacations, outdoor festivals and backyard cookouts, but no matter where your plans take you, please make safety your priority,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Regardless of the distance you’re traveling this week – across the country or around the corner – remember to buckle up, eliminate distractions and never drive buzzed or drunk. If we all do our small part, we increase everyone’s chances of arriving alive.”

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase safety and reduce traffic fatalities on Virginia’s highways, Virginia State Police will increase patrols around the Independence Day holiday. Beginning tomorrow (July 3, 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 Independence Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 3, 2018, and continues through midnight Wednesday, July 4, 2018.

During last year’s four-day Independence Day Operation C.A.R.E initiative, Virginia troopers cited 10,264 speeders and 2,678 reckless drivers, issued 308 citations for child seat violations, and cited 994 individuals for failing to obey the law and buckle up. Nearly 42 percent of the 843 individuals who died in all traffic crashes last year were unrestrained.

Troopers also arrested 115 drunk drivers during the 2017 holiday period. If you plan to drink alcohol at a holiday function, plan ahead and arrange a designated driver or use a rideshare service to be certain you get home safely.

NHTSA has a SaferRide app which is available for Android and Apple users. If you do not have a designated driver, you can always use NHTSA’s SaferRide app to call a taxi or a friend. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play, and Apple devices on the iTunes store. The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) SoberRide® is offered throughout Lyft’s Washington, D.C., coverage area, which includes the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William.

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.

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