Virginia State Police looking to reduce crashes on I-81 with ‘Operation DISS-rupt’

From Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023, 839 people died in a traffic crash on Virginia roadways, according to preliminary data

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia State Police is aiming to crack down on speeding and reckless driving on Interstate 81 with Operation DISS-rupt.

From Monday through Tuesday, state troopers throughout the Commonwealth will be joining forces to conduct the traffic enforcement and educational safety initiative on the full stretch of I-81.

“Cars are big pieces of machinery, and you really need to treat it seriously,” VSP Public Relations Manager Matthew Demlein said.

According to preliminary data, from Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023, 839 people died in a traffic crash on Virginia roadways, and in January of 2024, there were 50 fatalities on Virginia roadways, stats reveal.

Ultimately, the operation is looking to disrupt those alarming trends by addressing distracted and impaired driving, speed compliance and seat belt safety. The overall goal is to achieve zero fatal crashes during designated enforcement periods and to reduce the total number of crashes on Virginia interstates for the calendar year by 10%.

“We are asking Virginians to help state police ‘DISS-rupt’ the dangerous behaviors that put motorists and pedestrians at risk,” said Lt. Col. Matt Hanley, director of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Field Operations. “Initiatives like ‘DISSrupt’ are about getting Virginians back to the basics about traffic safety: making sure they are driving sober, driving safely, buckled up, and focused on the task ahead.”

State police recently ran ‘DISS-rupt’ enforcement actions on Interstates 64 and 95.

“Each area gets a chance to see the message,” Demlein said. “Let people know that we’re out there. Be visible, you know and really get people thinking about driving safely.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is one group in support of safety on the roads. About 31% of crash fatalities involve drunk drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“I can’t even begin to explain the impact that it can have on families,” public relations specialist Ashley Francis said. “It’s just in two seconds someone’s lives can be over, and their families’ lives will be ruined.”

About the Authors:

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.