In addition to an increase in overall traffic volume on Virginia’s highways,14 deaths occurred over the Memorial Day weekend, according to a news release from Virginia State Police. That’s six more deaths than last year’s three day weekend.
Fourteen people were killed on the state’s roadways in the cities of Richmond and Virginia Beach, and the counties of Botetourt, Bedford, Northampton, Cumberland, Chesterfield, Prince George, Tazewell, Amherst, Fairfax and Albemarle, the release states.
Two of the people were riding motorcycles, and eight of the people who died were not wearing a seat belt, the release states. The two fatal motorcycle crashes were in the city of Virginia Beach and Tazewell County.
The recording period began at 12:01 a.m. May 28 and ended at midnight Monday, the release states. Eight deaths resulted from traffic crashes on Virginia highways over the same time period in 2020.
The deaths occurred as state police joined law enforcement around the country for Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort, or CARE, over the weekend which aimed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt.
A “Click It or Ticket” campaign also occurred, with a statistical time period between May 24 at 12:01 a.m. through midnight of May 31, which cited 740 people for seat belt violations. During that period, citations were also given to 5,553 speeders and 1,818 reckless drivers. Seventy nine impaired drivers were arrested. The state police helped 2,302 motor vehicles and made 281 felony arrests.
In the news release, Virginia State Police Col. Gary T. Settle noted that although some drivers might have been driving less in the past year, the rules of the road haven’t changed.
“Speeding, reckless driving and distractions are leading to tragedy,” Settle stated. “Every one of these actions is a choice, a choice that has left too many families in mourning. In addition, eight people made the choice not to buckle up, a simple action that could have saved their lives and kept a family whole.”
Money generated from summonses issued by the state police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement, the release states.