July 4 traffic fatalities decline again

From contributed reports
During the July 4 holiday, traffic fatalities declined once again across Virginia. Of the 743 traffic crashes that state police responded to during the four-day statistical counting period, preliminary reports indicate that five of the crashes resulted in five deaths. In 2009, nine people were killed over a three-day holiday weekend.

The last time the Commonwealth experienced a significant drop in fatal traffic collisions during the Independence holiday weekend was in 2002 when two individuals lost their lives in the Commonwealth.

The five fatal crashes occurred in the city of Suffolk and the counties of Accomack, Fairfax, Nottoway and Rockingham. Three of the crashes occurred on Monday.

Of the four people killed in the four crashes involving passenger vehicles, three were not wearing safety belts. The Accomack County fatality involved a motorcycle in which the rider was wearing a helmet.

Alcohol was a factor in one of the fatal crashes. The 2010 Independence Day statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday and concluded at midnight Monday.

“While it is encouraging to see a drop in traffic fatalities, the numbers shouldn’t be a reason for drivers and passengers to let their guard down when they are behind the wheel,” says Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. “In fact, it is just as important as ever to urge motorists to make safe choices while driving: to buckle up and take their time when traveling to and from their destination.”

In addition to responding and investigating more than 700 traffic crashes statewide, Virginia State Police also cited 10,872 speeders and 2,756 reckless drivers. Placed under arrest by state police were 152 drunken drivers. State police cited 977 safety belt violations and 383 child safety seat violations, and assisted 3,561 motorists.

During the holiday weekend, 75 percent of Virginia State Police’s uniformed work force was working and participating in the annual Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for the Combined Accident Reduction Effort. The state-sponsored, national program emphasizes safe driving through the reduction of traffic injuries and fatalities, occupant restraint safety and impaired driving prevention.