Twelve men and women, including two motorcyclists, were killed on Virginia highways during the 2008 Fourth of July weekend, according to preliminary data. The holiday statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, July 3, and ended at midnight Sunday, July 6. During the four-day 2007 holiday weekend, 18 people were killed in 17 traffic crashes.
As of Monday, there have been 411 reported traffic fatalities compared to 504 this time last year.
The decreases in Virginias traffic fatalities between the 2008 and 2007 Independence Day weekends and for the entire year are encouraging, to say the least, said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. Although it is difficult to pinpoint one particular reason for the reduction in fatalities, we are hopeful that teenagers and adults are finally getting the message and making safe, responsible driving a priority. However, the 411 men, women, and children killed so far this year on our highways indicates we still have plenty of work to do.
Of the 12 killed in the holiday traffic crashes statewide, all but two were male and ranged in age from 17 years to 85 years old. Six of the 10 killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing seat belts. Alcohol was a factor in at least one of the crashes. Except for one New Jersey resident, all of those killed in the holiday traffic crashes were from Virginia.
Two of the fatal crashes involved motorcycles. One of the motorcyclists was not wearing a helmet. The fatalities occurred in the City of Waynesboro and Loudoun County.
The 12 fatal crashes occurred in the cities of Virginia Beach and Waynesboro; the town of Kenbridge; and the counties of Carroll, Dickenson, Goochland, Greensville, Halifax, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford. The fatalities in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties on Interstate 95 were the only two to occur on an interstate during the holiday weekend.
During the holiday weekend, Virginia State Police once again increased its presence statewide as a participant in the Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints, particularly during national holidays.
During the 2008 Fourth of July holiday period, Virginia State Police cited a total of 16,994 traffic and criminal violations, including: 149 for DUI; 7,697 for speeding; 2,053 for reckless driving; 292 for not using child restraints; and 803 for seat belt violations. State police also responded to and investigated 744 total traffic crashes, with 177 involving injuries.
To prevent and reduce traffic crash fatalities, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are challenging all Virginians to follow five simple steps towards a safer future: Buckle up; Avoid distractions; Share the road; Drive drug and alcohol free; and Obey speed limits. For more information on Virginias Highway Safety Challenge, click on www.safeVAhighways.org.