Eight people die in 4th of July weekend crashes across Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WSLS 10) - Five drivers, a motorcyclist, a teenage passenger and a pedestrian died in seven traffic crashes across Virginia during the Fourth of July weekend, according to preliminary reports from Virginia State Police.

The fatal crashes happened in the cities of Chesapeake and Roanoke, and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Chesterfield, Lunenburg and Sussex. The double fatality occurred in the city of Chesapeake.

During the Fourth of July holiday, Virginia State Police increased patrols as part of Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. From July 1 through July 4, Virginia troopers arrested 106 drunk drivers, and cited 9,469 speeders and 2,590 reckless drivers. Troopers also cited 821 individuals for failing to wear a seat belt and 360 motorists for child safety seat violations during the four-day statistical counting period.

State police assisted 3,285 motorists and investigated 947 traffic crashes statewide.

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.

"State police will continue its concerted efforts during the summer months to reinforce the need for all motorists to drive to save lives on Virginia's highways," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "To date, 345 lives have been lost to traffic crashes statewide. Let's turn that devastating statistic around and work together through compliance, education and enforcement to save that many lives in the coming weeks."

Police say 2016 marked an increase for the number of fatalities on Virginia roads during the holiday weekend. In 2015, only four people died; however, that holiday weekend was only three days long.

Below is a chart showing the previous five years worth of fatality statistics for Fourth of July weekend:

YearFatalities# of Days
 2013 7 4
 2012 10 5
 2011 14 4