10 die in Virginia during Fourth weekend

From contributed reports

Preliminary numbers provided by Virginia State Police indicate that 10 people died in nine crashes during the 2012 Fourth of July holiday weekend. In 2011, 14 people were killed in traffic crashes over a four-day holiday weekend. Despite the slight decrease in deaths from the previous Independence Day weekend, traffic deaths are still on the rise in Virginia. According to preliminary numbers, as of Monday, July 9, 2012, 373 lives have been lost to traffic crashes in the Commonwealth compared to 358 on the same date in 2011.

Victims who died during the 2012 Fourth of July holiday ranged in age from 15 to 75. The double fatality involved two male teenagers, ages 15 and 17, in Wise County. Two separate fatal crashes involved motorcyclists, both of whom were wearing motorcycle helmets. The motorcycle fatalities occurred in Franklin and Halifax counties. A 48-year-old pedestrian was killed in the City of Norfolk.

“To see such loss of life is truly discouraging when there are so many ways motorists can protect themselves while driving in our Commonwealth, like simply following the speed limit and buckling up,” says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Drivers and passengers should not let their guard down as it is important to always be vigilant about your safety when you get behind the wheel or ride with someone.”

The remaining five crashes took place in the counties of Brunswick, Henrico, Madison, Rockingham and Southampton. Alcohol was a factor in at least one of the traffic fatalities and undetermined in two others. All of the victims were drivers. Of the six passenger vehicle crashes, five of the victims were unbuckled.

The 2012 statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 4, 2012, and ended at midnight, Sunday, July 8, 2012. Additionally, troopers arrested 101 impaired drivers and cited 9,193 speeders and 2,596 reckless drivers during the five-day statistical counting period. The Virginia State Police 2012 Fourth of July holiday enforcement efforts also resulted in 904 safety belt violations and 274 child safety seat violations. Troopers responded to a total of 715 traffic crashes statewide.

During the holiday weekend, Virginia State Police participated in Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, known as Operation C.A.R.E. The traffic safety initiative is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failure to use occupant restraints.

Funds generated from summonses issued by state police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.

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