PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Disruptions are not usually associated with safety, but Virginia State Police are using this one to save lives. Over the next two days you may notice more patrols on Interstate 64, with a goal of stopping distracted driving.
It doesn’t take much to become distracted behind the wheel. From looking at your phone to changing the radio station or talking to the person sitting next to you, Virginia State Police will “DISS-rupt” those distractions over the next 48 hours to help save lives.
To Nate Levine of Portsmouth, it’s distractions like being on the phone while behind the wheel.
“Texting, social media from X’s to Instagram stories, Facebook posts, updating their to-do lists,” Levine said.
Levine’s friend Carlin Field has seen someone go as far as watching TV while driving.
“I have witnessed somebody watching Bob’s Burgers. Not only was it startling. It’s not that great of a show,” Field said.
Sgt. Michelle Anaya with the Virginia State Police told 10 On Your Side that, from the start of the year through Oct. 17, there have been 674 deaths on Virginia roads. During that same time, 99 pedestrians were hit and killed.
“Our goal is really to reduce fatal crashes,” Anaya said. “A lot of our fatal crashes are really a result of speed, distracted driving, impaired driving and failure to wear seatbelts.”
That’s where Operation DISS-rupt comes in. On Thursday and Friday, state police will be posted along the I-64 corridor looking for distracted and impaired driving, speeding and those not wearing seat belts. Anaya said the goal is to decrease crashes by 10% and have no fatal crashes.
Deaths on the road are not only devastating to families but also to State Police, who respond to them.
“It does take a toll on us, because if we see a fatality of a child or a teenager, people forget that we have families too,” Anaya said. “We think, ‘Wow, that could have been my child.’ There’s many times I have gone to a fatal accident and I have known the child. Those images constantly play on troopers’ minds.”
Troopers also plan to initiate Operation DISS-rupt on I-95, I-81 and I-66 later this year.