Fatal crashes on the rise, VSP remind motorists to drive safe Labor Day Weekend


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia State Police are reminding citizens to drive safely and responsibly during Labor Day weekend as data show traffic fatalities have increased over the last three years.

VSP’s Operation CARE (Crash Awareness Reduction Effort) is a nationwide, state-sponsored safety program, and participation begins Friday, Sept. 4, at 12:01 a.m. continuing through midnight Monday, Sept. 7.

The program is set to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use seatbelts.

“It’s really quite simple – seat belts save lives, distractions are deadly on roadways and driving impaired is unacceptable,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “I understand that this year has been particularly stressful and Virginians are looking to get away. We want you and your family to reach your destination safely and throughout Virginia, you can expect to see more state troopers conducting patrols to ensure that safety.”

In 2019, during Labor Day weekend 17 people died in crashes during the four-day holiday in Virginia. That is a 21% increase since 2018 when the state saw 14 deaths and more than triple the amount of deaths from 2017 when the state had five traffic fatalities.

With three months left to go in the year, preliminary data also show that as of Sept. 2, there have been 532 fatalities on Virginia highways in 2020 as compared to 531 in 2019.

“In a year where there have been fewer cars on the roads, this trend is disturbing. Virginians must realize that actions have consequences and when you’re unsafe on the road, people pay the price,” said Settle. “These are strong words, but this is a serious subject. Everyday State Troopers notify family members of a loved one’s death. It’s not a job we want to do and no one wants to get that knock at the door. Your safety habits can help reverse the trend and save a life.”

VSP reminds drivers to:

  • Buckle up
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Drive phone and distraction-free

State police are actively participating in the annual “Checkpoint Strikeforce” — an anti-DUI enforcement and education program sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).

State police is one of nearly 100 law enforcement agencies conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols through Labor Day in an effort to prevent and deter impaired driving and DUI/DUID-related crashes.

Virginia traffic crash reports and facts can be found here. For more information on the Virginia State Police, click here.

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