RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The following information comes from the Virginia State Police:
With the most heavily-traveled holiday just a week away, the Virginia State Police are strongly encouraging motorists to make safe driving a priority during the Thanksgiving weekend. After a three-year, annual decline in fatal traffic crashes, Virginia is now experiencing an increase in deaths on its highways. Preliminary reports indicate 17 more people have been killed in traffic crashes as of Nov. 15, 2011, when compared to the same date last year.
"In recent years, Virginia has made significant progress in reducing traffic crashes on our highways," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "We can't lose that momentum as too many lives are at stake. There is just over a month left in 2011, so let's make the most of it by making smart, safe and sober decisions when behind the wheel of a vehicle."
From Jan. 1, 2011, to Nov. 15, 2011, traffic crashes statewide have claimed 662 lives; compared to 645 during the same timeframe in 2010. In just the first 15 days of November, 34 adults, teenagers and children have been killed in 28 crashes. In at least seven of the crashes alcohol was factor. Fifteen of those killed were not buckled up. Three of those killed were motorcyclists.
To help prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Combined Accident Reduction Effort. Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints. As a participating agency, State Police will increase its visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the Commonwealth beginning Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through midnight, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011.
Last year during the holiday weekend, Virginia State Police troopers statewide cited 831 seat belt violations. Another 253 summonses were issued for children not being properly secured in either a child safety seat or booster seat.
The 2010 Operation C.A.R.E. initiative also resulted in 10,116 speeders and 2,780 reckless drivers being stopped, and 175 drunk drivers being taken off the road and arrested.
During the 2010 Thanksgiving weekend, a total of 10 people died in traffic crashes. In 2009, there were 16 deaths, and 12 killed during the 2008 holiday weekend. Additional historical statistics available at http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/safety/crash_data/crash_facts/index.asp.