RICHMOND – Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the winter holiday travel season. For many Virginians, this means hitting the roads, and in some cases, travelling long distances to share time, and turkey, with loved ones. Wanting everyone to enjoy this holiday with family and friends, the Virginia State Police is reminding drivers and their passengers to always buckle up. In 2022, over half of all traffic fatalities in Virginia involved people not wearing a seat belt. *
“Far too many Virginians continue to lose their lives on our roadways for reasons that can be prevented simply by wearing a seat belt,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Virginia State Police, like your families, wants you to safely arrive at your holiday destination. This can only happen if drivers do what they can to make our highways as safe as possible – ditching distractions, complying with posted speed limits and wearing a seat belt.”
Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E – Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. This means state troopers will be increasing their presence and enforcement efforts during the five-day holiday statistical counting period. The period runs from 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, through midnight, Sunday, Nov. 26.
The 2022 Thanksgiving CARE initiative resulted in state troopers citing 4,407 speeders and 1,803 reckless drivers statewide. Virginia state troopers arrested 92 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and cited 454 for seat belt violations.
There were 19 traffic fatalities in Virginia during the counting period in 2022, and five in 2021. Preliminary data indicates that as of Nov. 15, 2023, there have been 736 fatalities on Virginia’s roads this year, down from 813 traffic deaths on the same date in 2022.
The Thanksgiving C.A.R.E. initiative coincides with the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) “To Get There” winter holidays DUI-prevention campaign. Both are educational and enforcement-oriented traffic safety initiatives aimed at saving lives on Virginia’s highways through increased usage of seat belts and the deterrence of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.