Press release from Virginia State Police
RICHMOND, VA - Virginia traffic deaths over the 2011 Fourth of July holiday weekend more than doubled compared to the same holiday weekend in 2010. In 2010, Virginia lost a total of six people during the four-day statistical counting period for the July 4th weekend. This year, preliminary reports indicate 13 people lost their lives in traffic crashes statewide during the four-day statistical counting period. (See historical holiday fatality totals)
During the holiday statistical counting period which began at 12:01 a.m. Friday (July 1) and ended midnight Monday (July 4), 13 people were killed in 11 traffic crashes. The fatal crashes occurred in the City of Portsmouth and the counties of Accomack, Albemarle, Alleghany, Campbell, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Henrico and Prince Edward. Both Alleghany and Henrico counties had two separate fatal crashes.
Of the 11 fatal crashes, at least four were alcohol-related. At least five of the crash victims were not wearing seat belts. The Albemarle County crash claimed the life of a Crozet man who was riding a motorcycle.
"To see traffic deaths spike so significantly from one year to the next, with alcohol and a lack of seat belt usage as common factors, is extremely alarming," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "These are more than just statistics - they are people's lives and loved ones. The tragedies experienced this past holiday weekend should be a wake-up call to all Virginians about the serious and immediate need to make driving safety a priority, especially during the remainder of the summer months."
During the holiday weekend, Virginia State Police participated in the annual nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety initiative Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, known as Operation C.A.R.E. State troopers stopped 10,462 speeders and another 2,805 reckless drivers during the four-day statistical counting period. State police also took 117 impaired drivers off Virginia's highways. Troopers cited 866 individuals for failing to buckle up and 343 adults for failing to having to have their children properly secured in a child safety restraint.