State police increase Labor Day weekend patrols

Virginia State Police have stepped up stationary and roving patrols during the Labor Day weekend in an effort to reduce accidents caused by drunken driving, speeding and failing to use occupant restraints.

The additional patrols, part of the annual Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, will be in effect through midnight Monday.

Accidents took the lives of 11 people on Virginia roads in 2014, an increase from the nine recorded in 2013. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that drunken driving was involved in 38 percent of crash deaths over Labor Day weekend in 2013.

State police arrested 109 drunk drivers over Labor Day weekend in 2014. They also issued 11,894 tickets for speeding, 2,679 for reckless driving and 923 for seat belt violations.

State police superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty said in a written statement that the increased patrols are intended to crack down on speeding, drunken driving and other traffic hazards.

“We encourage all drivers to slow down, be cautious and drive sober,” Flaherty said. “Your life and the lives of everyone on the road depend on it.”

Capt. Wesley Dellinger, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, said his agency has also assigned extra deputies to patrols over the weekend. The increased enforcement is paid for through a state grant.

“We just encourage everybody to exercise patience and drive safely,” Dellinger said.

Other area law enforcement agencies are planning normal levels of staffing for their patrol shifts.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com