Labor Day

LABOR DAY WEEKEND TRAFFIC CRASHES CLAIM 8 LIVES IN VIRGINIA

VSP Arrests 59 Impaired Drivers

RICHMOND, Va. – Despite a significant decrease in fatal traffic crashes over the 2021 Labor Day holiday weekend for Virginia, there was still an alarming number of deaths among motorcyclists. Of the eight traffic deaths reported for the holiday weekend to date, four involved motorcycles and one involved a moped. During the 2020 Labor Day weekend, there were a total of 20 traffic fatalities on Virginia’s highways. State police arrested 59 impaired drivers on Virginia highways during the holiday statistical counting period.

“I can only hope that the reduction in traffic deaths during the Labor Day weekend is a sign of continued reductions for the remainder of the year,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We haven’t seen holiday numbers like this since 2017. In order to further reduce and prevent traffic deaths and injuries on Virginia’s highways, we need the public’s help. The decisions are simple: drive smart, safe and sober.”

During the 2021 four-day holiday statistical counting period, the eight fatal traffic crashes occurred in the counties of Bedford, Charlotte, Hanover, Madison, Suffolk, and Wythe, along with the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. State police investigated a total of 778 traffic crashes during the holiday weekend.

The Virginia State Police participated in two annual, traffic-safety enforcement programs over the 2021 Labor Day weekend: Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (CARE) and the  Checkpoint Strikeforce, the anti-DUI enforcement and education program sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). Operation CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program began Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., and concluded at midnight Monday, Sept. 6, 2021.

As a result of state police traffic safety enforcement efforts during the 2021 statistical counting period, Virginia troopers:

  • Stopped 4,602 speeders
  • Stopped 1,591 reckless drivers
  • Arrested 59 drivers for DUI/DUID
  • Cited 402 seat belt violations
  • Assisted 995 disabled/stranded motorists

The Virginia State Police free motorcycle education, training and assessment program, Ride 2 Save Lives, continues to offer courses across the state through October. For more information on Ride 2 Save Lives motorcycle assessment courses, visit: virginiastatepolice.eventbrite.com.

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.

For more information on traffic safety and how to keep Virginia “Moving Toward Zero Roadway Deaths,” go to www.tzdva.org.

VIRGINIA STATE POLICE URGING MOTORISTS TO PUT SAFETY FIRST THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND AS FATAL CRASHES CONTINUE TO RISE IN THE COMMONWEALTH

RICHMOND – As the skies clear after Tropical Depression Ida moves beyond Virginia, Virginia State Police is urging those who will be using the Labor Day weekend as a final summer travel getaway to do so safely and responsibly.  Labor Day traffic fatalities have been on the rise for the past four years, which is why it is imperative for motorists to stay alert, stay sober and wear their seatbelts while on Virginia’s highways.

“Last year was a record year for fatal crashes on Virginia roadways and sadly we are on pace for another tragic year,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “In 2020, there were increases in speed, unrestrained and alcohol-related traffic deaths. It’s really quite simple - seatbelts save lives, distractions are deadly on roadways, speed kills and driving impaired is unacceptable. We want you and your family to reach your destination safely, and we need every motorist to help us achieve that goal.”

Virginia State Police will have all available uniformed personnel on patrol over the 2021 Labor Day weekend conducting traffic safety and enforcement patrols as part of Operation CARE – the Crash Awareness Reduction Effort, a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program begins Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and continues through midnight Monday, Sept. 6, 2021.

The 2020 Labor Day weekend saw a rise in fatal crashes across the Commonwealth. A total of 20 individuals died in traffic crashes in Virginia during the 2020 four-day, holiday statistical counting period, compared to 17 deaths in 2019 and 14 deaths in 2018*. In addition, as of Aug. 31, 2021, preliminary data indicates there have been 573 traffic fatalities on Virginia highways, as compared to 544 on the same date in 2020.

State police is also actively participating in the annual “Checkpoint Strikeforce,” an anti-DUI enforcement and education program sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). State police is one of nearly 100 law enforcement agencies conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols through Labor Day in an effort to prevent and deter impaired driving and DUI/DUID-related crashes. In addition, state police reminds all motorists to drive phone- and distraction-free. 

With the increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. Drivers are required to cautiously pass an emergency vehicle when unable to safely move over a lane. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.

*Source: Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

Virginia Launches 20th Annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI Enforcement and Public Education Campaign

New data shows that ninety percent of men in Virginia ages 21-35 have driven after having a few drinks or been driven by someone who had a few drinks in the last year

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today kicked off the Commonwealth’s 20th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI enforcement and public education campaign. The enforcement aspect of the traffic safety campaign will take place from August 20 through Labor Day weekend and resume throughout the 2021 winter holiday season.

"It is great news that restaurants are open again and everyone is eager to celebrate, but let's all remember to do so safely and take care of each other,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “The tireless efforts of Checkpoint Strikeforce over the past 20 years have been critical in reminding Virginians of the importance of getting a safe ride after drinking. This year, as they have for the last two decades, Checkpoint Strikeforce will help keep drunk drivers off the road and save the lives of countless Virginians."

Last year in Virginia, nearly a third (32 percent) of all traffic fatalities in Virginia were due to alcohol-related crashes. 14,105 people were convicted of a DUI in the Commonwealth in 2020. During last year’s Labor Day weekend alone, Virginia State troopers arrested 55 drunk drivers, averaging a DUI arrest every 104 minutes. Checkpoint Strikeforce is a crucial joint effort between public and private partners that works to stop these fatalities through surround-sound persuasion campaigning and high-visibility enforcement that reminds Virginians to get a safe ride after drinking or face arrest.

Virginia State Police will work through Labor Day as part of Operation CARE, or Crash Awareness Reduction Effort. Operation CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police will participate in this program starting on Friday, September 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., and continue through midnight on Monday, Sept. 6, 2021.

“As a trauma surgeon, I’ve seen first-hand the destruction that impaired driving causes for families and communities,” said medical director of VCU Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center and VCU’s Injury and Violence Prevention Program Michel B. Aboutanos, M.D.. “Drunk driving-related injuries can be devastating for not just the driver but innocent people on the roadways. Treating injuries begins by preventing them from happening in the first place and we need everyone in the community to play a role in preventing impaired driving.”

“The nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program is proud to partner with Virginia for the 20th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign—marking two decades of saving the lives of Virginians from alcohol-related driving fatalities,” said President and CEO of the Virginia-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program Kurt Erickson. “Since Checkpoint Strikeforce’s inaugural campaign in 2001, alcohol-related crashes have decreased 41.2%, fatalities have decreased by 24%, and injuries have been halved.”

The campaign launch is supported by new research from local partner Lake Research Partners who conducted a survey that found 21 to 35-year-old males are most likely to drive after drinking. The research also showed that in the last year, 90 percent of men surveyed admitted to having driven after having a few drinks or being driven by someone who had a few drinks. However, 93 percent of young men indicated that they believe it is important to make a plan to get home safely after a night of drinking. Of the men surveyed, 61 percent expect to need a safe ride after drinking.

128 Virginia law enforcement agencies will participate in the first wave of Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign. Law enforcement officers will conduct 559 individual saturation patrols and 74 sobriety checkpoints across the Commonwealth.

Complementing the enforcement, Checkpoint Strikeforce is continuing its advertising campaign called “Act Like It.” The 30-second ad is an updated version of the spot which debuted in 2018. To address the changing environment in 2021 with COVID-19 restrictions lifted and restaurants open, the traffic safety campaign’s “man-baby” character returns to the bar, considering dangerous choices after drinking. The spot was built on public opinion research that shows the campaign’s primary audience strongly agrees that “people who drink and drive are not acting like responsible adults.” The advertisements remind viewers that drinking and driving is irresponsible—if you’re old enough to drink, act like it. Don’t risk a DUI. The latest ad can be viewed here: http://actlikeit.org/.

Checkpoint Strikeforce is part of a research-based multi-state, zero tolerance initiative designed to get impaired drivers off the roads using sobriety checkpoints and patrols along with education about the dangers and consequences of driving while impaired. Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign is supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to the nonprofit and Virginia-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).

Virginia Launches 19th Annual Checkpoint Strikeforce Campaign to Curb Impaired Driving

Governor Northam highlights increased enforcement patrols, reminds Virginians to travel safely

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today kicked off the Commonwealth’s 19th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce enforcement and public education campaign to combat impaired driving and prevent alcohol-related injuries and fatalities on Virginia’s roads. Modified to address safety and health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the period of increased enforcement will take place from August 26 through Labor Day weekend, and resume periodically around key holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve.

“This has been a challenging year, and now more than ever, we are all focused on keeping our loved ones safe,” said Governor Northam. “I am asking Virginians to apply the same collective action and shared responsibility that we have harnessed to stop the spread of COVID-19 to reverse the trends of drunk driving. The work of Checkpoint Strikeforce is a critical part of our efforts to reduce the number of fatalities on Virginia’s roads, and the message is simple: if you are old enough to drink, act like it—never get behind the wheel after you have been drinking.”

Last year, nearly one-third (31.9 percent) of traffic fatalities in Virginia were due to alcohol-related crashes, and 18,648 people were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in the Commonwealth. During Labor Day weekend alone, Virginia State Police personnel arrested 76 drunk drivers, averaging a DUI arrest every 75 minutes. Checkpoint Strikeforce is a crucial joint effort between public and private partners that works to stop these fatalities through surround-sound persuasion campaigning and high-visibility enforcement that reminds Virginians to get a safe ride after drinking or face arrest.

The Virginia State Police will work through Labor Day weekend as part of Operation CARE, or Crash Awareness Reduction Effort. Operation CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding, and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police will participate in this program starting at midnight on Friday, September 4, 2020 through midnight on Monday, September 7, 2020.

“Last year, 264 Virginians died on our roadways in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes—but even one death is too many,” said President and CEO of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program Kurt Erickson. “This year, increased patrols will be complemented by an innovative ad campaign that reflects the changes to socializing in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reminds Virginians that drinking and driving is not only irresponsible, it can be deadly.”

Since the inception of Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign in 2002, alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities in the Commonwealth have been reduced by more than a quarter (26.2 percent) and the number of alcohol-impaired traffic injuries annually occurring on the Virginia’s roadways have been nearly cut in half (46.3 percent).

The 2020 Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign launch is supported by new research from Lake Research Partners, which last month conducted a survey of Virginia drivers that are most likely to drive after drinking: 21- to 35-year-old males. The research showed that more than half (57 percent) of men surveyed admitted to having driven after consuming a few drinks or being driven by someone who has had a few drinks, despite a strong majority (95 percent) indicating that they believe it is important to make a plan to get home safely. Of the men surveyed, 52 percent said that they have needed a safe ride after drinking more or the same amount this year in comparison to last year, showing the desire to socialize despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to heightened enforcement, Checkpoint Strikeforce is continuing its “Act Like It” advertising campaign. The 30-second ad is an updated version of the spot which debuted in 2018 and was built on public opinion research that shows the campaign’s primary audience strongly agrees (81 percent, with 94 percent agreeing overall) that “people who drink and drive are not acting like responsible adults.” This year’s campaign will also include Spanish-language ads online and on streaming radio. The latest ad can be viewed at ActLikeIt.org.

Video of today’s virtual Checkpoint Strikeforce launch event is available here.

Checkpoint Strikeforce is part of a research-based multi-state, zero tolerance initiative designed to get impaired drivers off the roads using checkpoints and patrols along with education about the dangers and consequences of driving while intoxicated. Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign is supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to the nonprofit and Falls Church-based Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).

DRIVE SOBER AND SAVE LIVES THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

Motorists Reminded to Heed Potential for Heavy Rains Related to Hurricane Hermine

RICHMOND – Summer is winding down, which means thousands of motorists will be heading out on highways across the Commonwealth this Labor Day weekend. Travelers can expect to see more stationary and roving patrols by Virginia State Police troopers as part of the Department’s participation in the annual Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.) program. Operation CARE is a nationwide, state-sponsored traffic safety program that aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints. Virginia State Police’s participation in the program means troopers will increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the Commonwealth beginning Friday morning, Sep. 2, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through midnight Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.

Last year, Virginia experienced 16 traffic deaths during the four-day holiday counting period. This was an increase from 2014 when 11 individuals lost their lives in crashes during the Labor Day weekend. In addition to investigating 617 total traffic crashes during last year’s holiday weekend, State Police stopped 11,412 speeders and 3,189 reckless drivers. Troopers cited 933 safety belt violations and 336 child safety seat violations.

Also of concentration this Labor Day weekend is impaired driving. State police is joining nearly 200 local law enforcement agencies to participate in the 2016 Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). Last year’s Labor Day weekend netted 119 DUI arrests by Virginia troopers.

“Drunk driving takes a life, on average, every 36 hours in Virginia,” Lt. Colonel George L. Daniels Jr., Bureau of Field Operations Director said at a Checkpoint Strikeforce kickoff press conference in Richmond Thursday. “Drunk drivers don’t discriminate. They put everyone on the road at risk—a painful and never-ending reality for the families of the 241 people who died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Virginia last year.”

State Police are also reminding motorists to make safety a priority if traveling to and/or from the Hampton Roads region this holiday weekend. With Hurricane Hermine’s path currently forecasted to impact Hampton Roads, there is a serious potential for heavy rains, strong winds, and flooding in the coastal region. Drivers are advised to monitor the weather forecasts throughout the holiday weekend. Motorists are also advised to never drive through flooded roadways or high, standing water, due to the severe threat of your vehicle getting stuck or carried away in the current. When driving in heavy rain, always use your headlights, buckle up, slow down for adverse road conditions, and remain alert to other motorists and high water.

For more information on storm preparations, safety tips, and advisories related to this storm, go to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website.

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