Virginia State Police reports fatal crash numbers rose during this year’s Fourth of July weekend, and nearly half of the motorists killed in those crashes were not wearing a seat belt.
During the four-day statistical counting period, preliminary numbers report a total of nine drivers and passengers died in as many traffic crashes statewide this past holiday weekend. Last year, traffic crashes claimed a total of eight lives on Virginia highways.
The nine fatal traffic crashes occurred in the cities of Norfolk and the counties of Amherst, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Henrico, Montgomery, Orange, Rockingham and Surry. State troopers responded to and investigated a total of 671 traffic crashes statewide during the four-day statistical counting period.
Of the six passenger vehicle fatalities over the holiday weekend, four of those killed were not wearing seat belts. Separate crashes in Norfolk and Fairfax County took the lives of two pedestrians attempting to cross the street. In Rockingham County, a motorcyclist, who was wearing a helmet, was killed in a head-on collision with drunk driver.
“Sadly, the number of fatalities on our highways increased this year during the holiday, which is unacceptable,” VSP Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty said in a release. “A moment is all that it takes for a crash to occur, but taking a moment before you drive to put on your seat belt or your helmet, to put the phone down or to make the decision not to drive drunk or drugged could save a life. When we get behind the wheel, we all need to do our part to make our travels as safe as possible.”
VSP participated in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) over the holiday weekend, which is a traffic safety initiative that began 12:01 a.m. July 1 and ended July 4 at midnight. The state-sponsored, national program encourages law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays, like the Fourth of July.
The 2017 Fourth of July Operation C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in troopers citing 10,238 speeders and 2,677 reckless drivers. Troopers cited 992 safety belt violations and 308 child restraint violations. A total of 114 drunken drivers were taken off Virginia’s roadways and arrested by state troopers.
Although “Move Over” Awareness Month came to a close in June, VSP continues to emphasize the importance of the “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over a lane when approaching emergency vehicles stopped along the roadside. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass emergency vehicles with active blue, red or amber flashing lights.
Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.