June 29, 2012
More Holiday Traffic July Fourth Means More Reasons You Need to Drive Safe & Sober
VSP Increase Enforcement Efforts Over Holiday Weekend & July 1st DUI Law Affects First-Time Offenders
RICHMOND – As we plan to observe our nation’s birthday, are you one of the millions of drivers planning to travel to celebrate with family and friends? You won’t be alone as traffic safety advocates expect a significant increase in the volume of traffic for the upcoming Independence Day holiday. With traffic deaths increasing this year, Virginia State Police reminds all drivers to continue to be vigilant about their safety while driving or riding in a vehicle. Preliminary numbers indicate that as of Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 336 lives have been lost on Virginia’s highways, compared to 327 on the same date in 2011.
Last year, there were a total of 14 traffic deaths during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Unfortunately, Independence Day is also one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. During the 2011 July Fourth five-day statistical counting period, Virginia troopers stopped and arrested 117 impaired drivers.
“We certainly want everyone to enjoy the Fourth of July and all the festivities associated with it, but we also want motorists to make smart decisions before they get behind the wheel,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Last year, during the Fourth of July, 117 drivers decided to put their lives and others at risk by driving drunk on Virginia’s highways. We take a zero tolerance to such driving behavior. Drinking and driving simply don’t mix. If you plan to drink, call a cab or ride with a sober friend.”
Additionally, Virginia State Police is advising all drivers of a state law that takes effect July 1, 2012 concerning individuals convicted of driving under the influence. Under this law, anyone convicted of a DUI, including a first-time offender, may only operate a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device as a condition of a restricted license. For more information about the legislation, you can visit (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+ful+CHAP0141).
State police will have 75 percent of its uniformed workforce on patrol from 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 4, through midnight Sunday, July 8, 2012. Troopers will again be participating in Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). The annual, nationwide, state-sponsored campaign is designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and a failure to buckle up.
Statewide, state troopers cited 10,522 speeders and 2,805 reckless drivers during the 2011 July 4th holiday weekend as part of Operation C.A.R.E. Troopers also cited 869 safety belt violations and issued 343 citations for children not being properly secured in a safety or booster seat, as required by state law.
As a result of an increase in troopers on the highways, motorists are advised to comply with Virginia’s Move Over law, which requires drivers to change to another travel lane or, when not able to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road.