40ºF

Summer travel season off to deadly start on Virginia highways, police say

Police urging motorists to put traffic safety as top holiday priority

Traffic converges on highway I-495 South just west of the nation's capital on one of the busiest travel days of the year November 23, 2011 in McLean, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Traffic converges on highway I-495 South just west of the nation's capital on one of the busiest travel days of the year November 23, 2011 in McLean, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. – With a record-breaking number of travelers forecast for the 2017 Independence Day weekend and the recent rash of fatal crashes in Virginia since the official start of summer, the Virginia State Police is urging all motorists to put traffic safety at the top of their list of holiday priorities.

This past weekend, 15 people were killed in traffic crashes across the Commonwealth.

Those who lost their lives in traffic crashes from June 23-25 included drivers, passengers, motorcyclists and pedestrians ranging from 4 months to 74 years of age.

To ensure the Fourth of July holiday period is as safe as possible, Virginia State Police is increasing patrols. 

Since Saturday, VSP has joined with law enforcement around the country for Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a state-sponsored national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speeding and failing to wear a seat belt.

The 2017 July Fourth statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and continues through midnight Tuesday.

“Halfway through 2017, there have already been 20 more traffic deaths compared to this date in 2016,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. “Let’s try to turn this year around and work towards saving lives, beginning with this July Fourth weekend. Traffic crashes and deaths are prevented when drivers and passengers simply follow the rules of the road – this includes never driving impaired, avoiding distractions while driving and always wearing a seat belt.” 

During the 2016 July Fourth weekend, Virginia troopers arrested 106 drunk drivers and cited 9,487 speeders and 2,590 reckless drivers. They 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.