RICHMOND – Over the next week, thousands of Virginians will take to the highway to travel for the holidays. This weekend – Life Saver Weekend – signifies the start of the Christmas travel period and serves as a reminder to motorists to #Drive2SaveLives and celebrate safely so everyone will #ArriveAlive.
Since Dec. 1, 2018, traffic crashes in Virginia have claimed the lives of 23 people, including 15 drivers, two passengers, three pedestrians, two motorcyclists and one bicyclist. Despite a grim start to the month, preliminary reports indicate traffic fatalities are down 3.5 percent to date in 2018 (Jan. 1, 2018 – Nov. 12, 2018) compared to the same period last year, falling from 799 deaths in 2017 to 771 so far this year.
Last year, 248 individuals were killed in alcohol-related crashes on Virginia highways.* Since Nov. 18, 2018 (Thanksgiving week), Virginia State Police has decorated its virtual “Lifesaving Tree” with 99 stars, each of which represents a DUI arrest and a potential life saved because an impaired driver was taken off the road. A star will be added to the “Lifesaving Tree” for every impaired driving arrest through the end of December, which is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.
“The holidays are a time to celebrate, but if the celebration involves alcohol you need to do it responsibly – hand over the keys, call for a ride or simply stay where you are,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “When you choose to drive drunk, you not only put your own life at risk, you risk the lives of others on the road with you. Make the smart, sober choice and help Virginia move toward zero roadway deaths.”
To help prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Life Saver Weekend, the Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints. As a participating agency, state police will increase its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the Commonwealth beginning Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through midnight, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018.
During last year’s Life Saver Weekend (Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 – Sunday, Dec. 17, 2018), Virginia State Police troopers:
- Cited 1,499 speeders
- Cited 428 reckless drivers
- Arrested 31 drunken drivers
- Cited 147 safety belt violations & 49 child restraint violations
- Investigated 493 traffic crashes (None of which were fatal.)
With additional troopers and other law enforcement working on Virginia’s highways this holiday weekend, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law. A life-saving law intended to protect public safety responders and others who have a responsibility to work the roads. Drivers are required to change to another travel lane or, when unable to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.