Deadly accidents in Va. up leading into Memorial Day weekend

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Expect to see a big increase in the number of cars on the road this Memorial Day Weekend, and while crews are working to keep the number of deaths down, things could be different come Tuesday if they follow the trend the state is seeing right now.

We've all heard the heart-breaking headlines: "Four family members killed in early morning crash, all four ejected, none wearing seat belts. Teen killed in Mother's Day crash," says John Saunders with Virginia DMV.

It's those headlines and more State Police are hoping to avoid this Memorial Day weekend.

More than 940,000 Virginians are expected to hit the road this weekend, traveling more than 50 miles. That is a more than 7 percent increase over last year's holiday.

"The bottom line, the improved consumer confidence and the allure of summer travel fun have combined to make this Memorial Day one of the busiest we've seen in years," says Martha Meade with AAA-Mid Atlantic.

But the amount of dough vacationers will dish out is expected to be cut by more than $200 this year.

"A lot of things are happening. This is some demand, more people traveling. There were some fears last year but we are in a recession so people are probably watching their pennies a little more closely than they have in the past," says Meade.

When you do hit the road, you'll notice stepped up patrols. State police will have 75 percent of its force checking for speeders, drunk drivers, as well as the state's move over law for blue lights on the side of the road.

Police will also be continuing the click it or ticket enforcement, encouraging you to wear a seat belt to curb the increase in deadly accidents the state is seeing so far this year, compared to last. So far, traffic deaths are up by a few compared to this time last year. Pedestrian deaths are up and motorcycle deaths are up nearly 40 percent.

"Help make this Virginia Memorial Day and summer, the safest ever," says Capt. Steven Chumley with the Virginia State Police.

Also, gas prices are down. Right now, the average price for regular gas in Richmond sits at $2.63, that's down 13 cents since last month. But, it is still about 31 cents higher than this same time last year.

Also, remember all of the state rest stops are open again, for the first holiday in long time.

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