“Safety First”: Police are asking Virginians to make safety top priority while traveling for Memorial Day


FILE – In this May 15, 2008, file photo, motorists sit in a Chicago traffic jam. More than 800 rear-seat passengers who weren’t wearing seat belts were killed in 2018 in U.S. traffic crashes, and states aren’t making enough progress in getting people to buckle up, the Governors Highway Safety Association says in a report released Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — With more Virginians expected to return to the roads this Memorial Day Weekend, Virginia State Police (VSP) is asking drivers to keep safety their top priority.

VSP is encouraging motorists to bring their “Safety First” mindset to the roadways by obeying all posted speed limits, driving for conditions, buckling up, and ditching distractions.

Between May 21 and midnight May 26, 22 lives were lost to 16 reported crashes on Virginia’s highways, according to VSP. Of the 22 traffic fatalities, five were motorcyclists, two were bicyclists and one was a pedestrian. Two of the fatal crashes claimed 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. 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.”

Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent

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 failure 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 last 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.

“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.”

Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent

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.

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