June 28, 2013
Celebrate Our Nation's Freedom This Fourth of July But If You Drive, Stay Free of Alcohol
Virginia State Police Step Up Patrols for Holiday Weekend
RICHMOND – Food, fireworks, family and friends are associated with the Independence Day holiday, unfortunately, so is a spike in traffic fatalities from impaired driving. During the 2011 July 4th holiday, 38 percent of the fatal crashes on the nation’s roads involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.* In Virginia last year, 10 percent of the crashes during the July 4th holiday were alcohol-related.**
In an effort to reduce the dangers of drinking and driving, Virginia State Police will step up patrols and enforcement as part of Operation C.A.R.E. The annual, nationwide, state-sponsored program, otherwise known as Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, concentrates on safe driving through strict traffic enforcement in an attempt to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. The 2013 statistical counting period for the holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, July 4, 2013, and concludes at midnight Sunday, July 7, 2013.
“Regrettably, not everyone celebrates this important holiday responsibly – which can be attested to the fact our troopers made 104 DUI arrests during the holiday last year,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We have zero tolerance for such behavior on the road. Don’t take the risk of drinking and driving. Better yet, don’t take the risk with someone else’s life. Make the responsible choice and designate a sober driver, if you plan to drink.”
During the 2012 July 4th holiday, Virginia State Police’s enforcement efforts also resulted in the following: 9,209 speeders and another 2,609 reckless drivers being cited; and 906 individuals being charged for failing to buckle up. There were also 280 child safety violations cited by state troopers.
State police investigated 719 traffic crashes during last year’s Independence Day weekend. There were a total of 10 traffic deaths during the holiday weekend in 2012. In 2011, 14 people were killed.
Making responsible choices starts with planning a safe way home before your celebration begins:
- Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
- If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;
- If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to dial #77 on a cell phone to reach the nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center;
- And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride their motorcycle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
With state police’s stepped up enforcement efforts, drivers are also reminded of Virginia’s Move Over law. Motorists need to comply with the law that has been in effect since 2002. It 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. The law also applies to emergency response vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.
* National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
** DMV, Highway Safety Office