RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — The barbecues, festivals, family gatherings, and fireworks are all the ingredients for a fun July 4 celebration.

However, the Virginia State Police (VSP) want to make sure Virginians plan ahead so they make sure everyone is safe and sober on the roads.

“Summer days are filled with celebrations, vacations, outdoor festivals, and backyard cookouts, but no matter where your plans take you, please make safety your priority,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, VSP Superintendent. “With fatal traffic crashes on pace this year to mimic last year’s record number, I urge all Virginians to buckle up, eliminate distractions and never drive buzzed, drunk, or under the influence. Together we can make this Independence Day the safest on record!”

Police say if you are thinking about celebrating with alcohol to have a designated driver or use a rideshare service or taxi to get home safely. Also, police suggest that those who are hosting serve non-alcoholic beverage options. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), don’t let someone who you know has been drinking behind the wheel of a car. The department also urges that everyone in a car wear their seatbelt and if you see an impaired driver on the road to slow down and call your local law enforcement.

“Preventing an alcohol-related tragedy is simple – do not drive after drinking any alcohol, period,” said Acting DMV Commissioner Linda Ford, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Even one drink can impair judgment on the road. And if your holiday celebrations involve alcohol, be sure to designate a sober driver before the party begins to ensure a safe ride home.”

The DMV says that during the July 4 holiday period, between July 2 – 5, there were 105 crashes, 56 injuries, and two deaths reported in 2021.

As a way to increase safety, VSP plans to increase patrols from 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 1 through midnight Monday, July 4. This is part of the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E); a state-sponsored program to help reduce crashes, deaths, and injuries from impaired driving, speeding, and failing to wear a seatbelt.

Police also want to remind drivers of the Commonwealth’s “Move Over” law. Drivers are required under that law to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle that is stopped alongside the road. Police say if you can’t move over, you are required to pass the emergency vehicle with caution.