RICHMOND, Va.- Although highway traffic volumes are not expected to be as considerable this Memorial Day holiday weekend as in past years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say traffic has still been steadily increasing in recent weeks as portions of Virginia have transitioned to Phase I of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan.

With more taking advantage of loosened restrictions, Virginia State Police are reminding all drivers of the importance and necessity of exercising safe and legal driving practices.

“Even though these are unusual times for everyone, nothing has changed in relation to the laws or messaging related to being safe on the road,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, superintendent of Virginia State Police. “Because of the lighter traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, state police troopers have witnessed an alarming uptick in the number of excessive speed violations. As a result, troopers will be stepping up their presence and enforcement during the holiday weekend in an effort to increase motorists’ compliance of traffic laws and decrease the reckless speeds and aggressive driving.”

Virginia State Police said they will be increasing patrols during the long holiday weekend as part of the Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). Beginning Friday, May 22, state police will join law enforcement around the country for Operation C.A.R.E., a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. The 2020 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. on May 22 and continues through midnight Monday, May 25.

During the four-day statistical counting periods for both the 2019 and 2018 Memorial Day weekends, 11 people lost their lives and 708 others were injured due to traffic crashes on Virginia’s highways, according to state police.

With the increased patrols, state police are also reminding drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching a vehicle stopped alongside the road that is equipped with flashing red, blue and amber lights. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle.

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