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November 29, 2010
Nine Killed in Traffic Crashes on Virginia's Highways Over 2010 Thanksgiving Holiday
33% Increase in State Police DUI Arrests

RICHMOND – As traffic deaths substantially decreased over the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the number of drunken driving arrests by State Police increased by roughly 33 percent. From 12:01 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 24) through midnight Sunday (Nov. 28), preliminary reports indicate nine people died in traffic crashes statewide. In 2009, 16 people lost their lives in traffic crashes during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend.

But the holiday still posed a serious safety threat with a significant increase in drunken driving arrests. Virginia Troopers took 175 drunken drivers off the highways statewide during the same five-day statistical counting period. Out of those arrests, 119 of them took place on a Virginia interstate. During the 2009 holiday weekend, State Police arrested 132 impaired drivers.

“State police warned motorists in advance of the holiday weekend not to drink and drive,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “The fact that 175 people were still willing to risk killing themselves and others on Virginia’s highways is more than disturbing. It’s completely unacceptable. Virginians must take proactive and responsible action this holiday season to not let themselves, their family, their coworkers or their friends drink and drive.”

At least one of the nine fatal crashes during the 2010 holiday weekend was alcohol-related.

The Thanksgiving fatal holiday crashes occurred in the City of Chesapeake and the counties of Albemarle, Hanover, Montgomery, Orange, Rappahannock and Sussex. Two of the nine fatal traffic crashes occurred in the City of Hampton on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) and Sunday (Nov. 28). Six of those killed were not wearing safety belts. Those killed in the crashes ranged in age from 13 to 89 years old.

Virginia State Police had 75 percent of its uniformed workforce on patrol during the five-day statistical counting period as part of the 2010 Thanksgiving Operation C.A.R.E. initiative. Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort is a nationwide, state-sponsored campaign designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and a failure of drivers and passengers to buckle up.

In addition to the 175 DUI arrests, Virginia Troopers also cited 10,116 speeders and 2,780 reckless drivers on highways across the Commonwealth. State police cited 831 adults who failed to buckle up and issued 253 child safety-restraint citations. Troopers also investigated a total of 922 traffic crashes statewide during the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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. Funding for the enforcement initiative was provided through federal highway safety monies.