State Police: Celebrate smart, safe and sober this July 4 holiday

Virginia State PoliceRICHMOND – With the Fourth of July falling on a Tuesday this year, many Virginians are preparing for a long holiday weekend. Virginia State Police is encouraging everyone to add smart, safe and sober driving to those celebratory travel plans.  

“Within the first six months of 2023, preliminary data indicates traffic crashes across the Commonwealth have claimed 400 lives,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “That means Virginia is averaging roughly two traffic deaths every day, and that’s unacceptable. Let’s make this extended July 4th holiday weekend Virginia’s safest ever and drive to save lives. Traffic crashes and deaths are prevented when drivers and passengers simply follow the rules of the road – this includes never driving impaired, avoiding distractions, complying with posted speed limits and always wearing a seat belt.”   

During the four-day statistical counting period for July 4, 2022, traffic crashes claimed 10 lives on Virginia’s highways.* In 2021, a dozen people were killed in traffic crashes statewide during that year’s four-day statistical counting period.  

If planning to drink alcohol at a July 4 function, arrange, in advance, a designated driver, or use a rideshare service or taxi, or utilize public transportation to be certain you get home safely.  Party hosts are encouraged to serve non-alcoholic beverage options, and to help prevent any guests from drinking and driving home from their event.

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase safety and reduce traffic fatalities on Virginia’s highways during the coming holiday weekend, Virginia State Police will increase patrols beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 3, 2023, through midnight Tuesday, July 4, 2023, as part of the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. 

During the 2022 four-day Operation C.A.R.E initiative for the July 4 holiday, Virginia troopers arrested 69 drivers for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and cited 4,262 speeders and 1,585 reckless drivers. Troopers issued 429 citations to individuals for failing to buckle up, and another 131 citations for children not being properly secured in a vehicle. Virginia troopers also cited 165 drivers for being in violation of Virginia’s year-old “hands free” law. 

Virginians are also reminded of the change to Virginia’s existing “Move Over” law. Effective July 1, 2023, the law’s protection expands to include to any stationary vehicle displaying hazard lights, warning signs (like an emergency triangle), or flares. An example of a situation like this might be a driver who pulls over to the side of the road to fix a flat tire. The law still requires drivers to change lanes and proceed with caution, if possible, when passing emergency vehicles and law enforcement vehicles displaying red or blue flashing lights, and utility, tow, highway maintenance and roadside assistance trucks displaying amber flashing lights on the roadside.