(WFXR) — Labor Day weekend is right around the corner and the Virginia State Police wants drivers to get to their final summer travel getaway safely and responsibly.
While the weekend will be filled with fun, the holiday has also seen a rise in fatalities over the past four years, according to police.
“Last year was a record year for fatal crashes on Virginia roadways and sadly we are on pace for another tragic year,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “In 2020, there were increases in speed, unrestrained and alcohol-related traffic deaths. It’s really quite simple – seatbelts save lives, distractions are deadly on roadways, speed kills, and driving impaired is unacceptable. We want you and your family to reach your destination safely, and we need every motorist to help us achieve that goal.”
To make sure drivers are safe, troopers will be conducting traffic safety and enforcement patrols. It is part of their Operation CARE (Crash Awareness Reduction Effort), which is a nationwide program to help reduce the number of traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries. This effort begins Friday, Sept. 3 at 12:01 a.m. through midnight Monday, Sept. 6.
Last year, Virginia State Police reported 20 people died in crashes during the four-day holiday. That number is up from 2019 when 17 deaths were reported and an increase from 2018 where 14 deaths were reported.
Besides Operation CARE, state police will be participating in Checkpoint Strikeforce, to help combat drunk driving. During the holiday, troopers will conduct sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.
Troopers want to also remind drivers about the Move Over law. This law states that when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road that drivers must move over or pass cautiously if drivers can’t move over a lane. It applies to workers in vehicles with amber lights.
Preliminary data released from Virginia State Police shows that as of Aug. 31 there have been 573 traffic deaths on highways. That is 29 more deaths compared to the same day last year.