RICHMOND, Va. – The 4th of July weekend can be full of celebratory fun, but it also comes with increased traffic and potentially more intoxicated drivers on the road.
Virginia State Police released a statement Tuesday that urged drivers to put safety first and even offered some advice for drinking safely over the holiday weekend.
Colonel Gary Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, expressed the importance of safety, especially during the holiday.
“Summer days are filled with celebrations, vacations, outdoor festivals and backyard cookouts, but no matter where your plans take you, please make safety your priority,” said Colonel Settle. “With fatal traffic crashes on pace this year to mimic last year’s record number, I urge all Virginians to buckle up, eliminate distractions and never drive buzzed, drunk, or under the influence. Together we can make this Independence Day the safest on record!”
The VSP statement suggested that drivers that plan on celebrating could plan ahead and arrange a designated driver or other transportation to make it home safely, and to avoid putting others at risk.
In the release, VSP encouraged party hosts to offer non-alcoholic beverages to help prevent any guests from drinking and driving home afterward.
To increase safety and reduce traffic incidents over the 4th of July weekend, VSP said they will increase patrols from 12:01 a.m. Friday through midnight Monday as part of the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort, a national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt.
VSP said that last year during the operation there were 12 traffic deaths on Virginia highways. They went on to say that troopers arrested 61 drivers under the influence, cited 4,025 speeders and 1,434 reckless drivers, and issued 510 citations to people not wearing a seatbelt.
Troopers also assisted 1,550 disabled or stranded motorists, VSP said.
VSP added that since there will be more patrols over the weekend, drivers should be reminded of Virginia’s “Move Over” law that requires motorists to move over when driving toward emergency vehicles stopped alongside the road, and if a driver is unable to move over, then they are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.