State Police urging motorists to put safety first this holiday weekend as fatal crashes continue to rise

RICHMOND – As the skies clear after Tropical Depression Ida moves beyond Virginia, Virginia State Police is urging those who will be using the Labor Day weekend as a final summer travel getaway to do so safely and responsibly.  Labor Day traffic fatalities have been on the rise for the past four years, which is why it is imperative for motorists to stay alert, stay sober and wear their seatbelts while on Virginia’s highways.

“Last year was a record year for fatal crashes on Virginia roadways and sadly we are on pace for another tragic year,” said Colonel 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.”

Virginia State Police will have all available uniformed personnel on patrol over the 2021 Labor Day weekend conducting traffic safety and enforcement patrols as part of Operation CARE – the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort, a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program begins Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and continues through midnight Monday, Sept. 6, 2021.

The 2020 Labor Day weekend saw a rise in fatal crashes across the Commonwealth. A total of 20 individuals died in traffic crashes in Virginia during the 2020 four-day, holiday statistical counting period, compared to 17 deaths in 2019 and 14 deaths in 2018*. In addition, as of Aug. 31, 2021, preliminary data indicates there have been 573 traffic fatalities on Virginia highways, as compared to 544 on the same date in 2020.

State police is also actively participating in the annual “Checkpoint Strikeforce,” an anti-DUI enforcement and education program sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). State police is one of nearly 100 law enforcement agencies conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols through Labor Day in an effort to prevent and deter impaired driving and DUI/DUID-related crashes. In addition, state police reminds all motorists to drive phone- and distraction-free.

With the increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. Drivers are required to cautiously pass an emergency vehicle when unable to safely move over a lane. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.