Lack of Seat Belt Usage Continues to Contribute to Lives Lost
RICHMOND – The 2021 Memorial Day weekend not only saw an increase in overall traffic volumes on Virginia’s highways, but also an increase in traffic deaths. Preliminary reports indicate 14 people lost their lives during the four-day, holiday statistical counting period. During the same statistical counting period in 2020, traffic crashes on Virginia highways resulted in eight deaths.
Of the 14 individuals killed this year on Virginia highways, two were riding on motorcycles and eight were not wearing a seat belt. The statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday (May 28) and ended at midnight Monday (May 31).
The fatal crashes occurred in the cities of Richmond and Virginia Beach, and the counties of Botetourt, Bedford, Northampton, Cumberland, Chesterfield, Prince George, Tazewell, Amherst, Fairfax and Albemarle. The two fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in the city of Virginia Beach and Tazewell County.
“I understand that most Virginians have been driving less in the past year. They may be feeling a bit green in the driver seat and their patience may be a bit short,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “But the rules of the road haven’t changed and safety on the roadways should be of paramount concern to everyone. This holiday weekend, as well as the entire year so far, have seen far too many people lose their lives on Virginia’s highways. Speeding, reckless driving and distractions are leading to tragedy. Every one of these actions is a choice, a choice that has left too many families in mourning. In addition, eight people made the choice not to buckle up, a simple action that could have saved their lives and kept a family whole. Virginia State Police urge all Virginia drivers to step up and make safe decisions when they get into their vehicles. You have the opportunity to break this devastating streak.”
This year, the Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. Initiative fell within the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. During the entire statistical counting period for “Click It or Ticket” and the Memorial Day weekend which ran from 12:01 a.m. May 24 through midnight May 31, Virginia Troopers cited 5,553 speeders and 1,818 reckless drivers and arrested 79 impaired drivers. In addition, 740 individuals were cited for seat belt violations and 281 felony arrests were made. Virginia State Police also assisted 2,302 disabled motorists.
Funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.