8 die in Virginia crashes during holiday weekend

Eight people lost their lives in eight traffic crashes across the state, according to preliminary reports for the 2014 Memorial Day weekend, one fewer than the number of traffic fatalities statewide last Memorial Day weekend.

In an effort to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and deaths over the holiday weekend, the Virginia State Police stepped up patrols as part of the annual Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), from 12:01 a.m. Friday (May 23) to midnight Monday.

The eight crashes occurred in Brunswick, Charles City, Cumberland, Giles, Hanover, Northumberland, Scott and Spotsylvania counties. Of the eight killed, seven were not wearing seatbelts. The Giles County crash Monday night (May 26) involved a Jeep Wrangler that overturned. The driver died; the two remaining passengers are still hospitalized. One of the four was reported to be wearing a seatbelt.

Operation CARE is a state-sponsored national program that encourages law enforcement agencies to increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts on major travel holidays. The stepped-up enforcement operation was part of the new, nationwide Drive to Save Lives campaign that aims to not only reduce traffic fatalities by 15 percent in 2014, but to also increase officer safety for those on patrol. (For Virginia to achieve a 15-percent reduction, there must be 111 fewer traffic deaths this year.)

Over the weekend, police stopped 13,829 speeders and another 3,136 reckless drivers statewide. In addition, troopers arrested and charged 142 drivers for DUI. They also cited 1,241 safety belt violations and 340 child safety seat violations. State police investigated a total of 463 traffic crashes.

“The summer travel season is now officially upon us,” said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, VSP superintendent. “Our figures indicate there were 10 fewer traffic crashes this Memorial Day weekend compared to 2013, which is encouraging considering the forecasts for record travel volume over the holiday.”

“However, more than 140 individuals still chose to drive impaired, several thousand chose to speed, and more than 1,200 failed to buckle up. Attitudes and behaviors must change if Virginia is going to reach its goal of 111 fewer traffic deaths by the end of 2014. Every motorist must drive to save lives by complying with speed limits, buckling up, avoiding distractions and never driving drunk or drugged.”

All funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia 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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