The NBC29 newsroom received the following release from the Virginia State Police:
Though not as deadly as last year, preliminary numbers indicate that seven drivers and two passengers died in traffic crashes on Virginia's highways during the 2012 Memorial Day weekend. Last year, 12 individuals were killed in traffic crashes statewide.
The four-day statistical counting period began Friday morning, May 25, 2012, at 12:01 a.m. and continued through midnight, Monday, May 28, 2012. During that time, nine people died in nine traffic crashes on Virginia's highways. Two of the fatal crashes took place in Goochland County and another two occurred in Halifax County. The remaining fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, and Washington. In at least eight of the crashes, the driver or passenger was not wearing a seatbelt.
"While the fatality rate during the Memorial Day weekend is lower than last year's, the loss of life is still disturbing," says Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "It's equally troubling to see the number of fatal crashes across the state involving individuals who were not buckled up, despite the fact we are in the middle of a Click-It-or-Ticket enforcement initiative. As the summer driving season begins, we must emphasize to all drivers and passengers to take those few seconds to buckle up before getting behind the wheel or riding with someone. Those few seconds could save your life."
For the remainder of this week, Virginia State Police will be continuing its enforcement and educational outreach participation in the national Click-It-or-Ticket traffic safety initiative. The Click-It-or-Ticket program is aimed at increasing seatbelt use in Virginia and continues until June 3, 2012.
As a result of troopers' increased visibility, checkpoints and traffic enforcement efforts on Virginia's highways during the holiday weekend, 11,794 speeders and 3,051 reckless drivers were stopped and cited. State Police also arrested 138 impaired drivers. A total of 1,168 safety belt violations and 393 child safety seat restraint violations were also cited by state troopers and supervisors.
With 75 percent of its uniformed workforce patrolling over the holiday weekend, Virginia State Police investigated a total 666 traffic crashes statewide and issued a total of 13,649 summonses and arrests. Through the nationwide Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, Virginia State Police patrolled 378,210 miles of Virginia roadways and assisted 3,385 motorists during the holiday statistical counting period.
Operation CARE, the Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.), is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.