Expect more state troopers on Virginia’s highways this weekend

Of the 843 people killed last year, 351 were not wearing a seat belt

Drivers in Hampton Roads and across Virginia will see more state troopers than usual on the commonwealth’s highways for Memorial Day weekend.

Beginning Friday, Virginia State Police will join law enforcement around the country for Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), a program to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries because of impaired driving, speeding or failing to wear a seat belt.

During last year’s Memorial Day weekend, Virginia troopers arrested 109 drunken drivers, cited 10,337 speeders and 2,395 reckless drivers, and issued 250 citations for child-seat violations, state police said. Troopers also cited 820 people for not wearing a seat belt.

This year’s Memorial Day weekend falls during the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, and state troopers will be vigilant in their efforts to increase seat belt usage for travelers of all ages, state police said. The two-week enforcement initiative runs through June 3.

Already this year, 280 people — including drivers, passengers, motorcyclists and pedestrians — have died on Virginia’s highways, state police said.

“Last year, 843 people were killed on Virginia’s highways. On average, that’s more than two people a day, 16 people a week and 70 people a month. But no matter how you count these tragic incidents, there are just too many,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police superintendent. “The sad fact is that many traffic crashes are preventable, but in order to prevent them we all have to do our part by buckling up, complying with speed limits, eliminating distractions and never driving impaired.”

Of those 843 people killed last year, 351 were not wearing a seat belt.

State police also are reminding drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road. If drivers can’t move over, they should slow down and cautiously pass the emergency vehicle. The law also applies to workers in vehicles equipped with amber lights.

From 2008 to 2017 nationwide, 126 law enforcement officers working along the roadside were struck by a vehicle because a driver failed to heed the “Move Over” law, state police said.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.