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VSP Joins Law Enforcement Nationwide for "Drive to Save Lives" C - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VSP Joins Law Enforcement Nationwide for "Drive to Save Lives" Campaign

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Virginia State Police Press Release

RICHMOND, Va. – Today Virginia State Police Superintendent, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, joined state police and highway patrol leaders from 40 other states along with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to announce the Drive to Save Lives Campaign at a press conference in New Orleans, La.

The implementation of the Drive to Save Lives Campaign is a united effort by state police and highway patrol leaders to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent in 2014. More than 33,000 deaths occur each year on our nation’s roadways. Highway fatalities rank as one of the top 12 causes of death in the United States and it is the leading cause of death among teens. This is unacceptable because most crashes are preventable.

As of Thursday (March 20, 2014), traffic deaths are on the decline in Virginia. To date, there have been 112 reported traffic deaths statewide, compared to 137 traffic deaths this same date in 2013.

“Every decrease in the number of traffic deaths is a life saved on a Virginia highway,” said Col. Flaherty. “Yet, there have already been 112 traffic crash deaths in just the first three months of this year statewide. These are lives destroyed because somebody failed to make safe driving practices a priority. In 2012, traffic deaths on Virginia highways were more than double the total number of homicides reported statewide that same year.* If we are to make our highways safer in the Commonwealth and across the country, then Virginians have to take traffic safety as seriously as those of us in law enforcement do.”

In order to decrease highway fatalities, state police and highway patrol leaders from the IACP Division of State and Provincial Police will lead a sustained effort over the course of the year that is data driven; focuses on the use of seat-belts and speeding; and targets impaired and distracted driving. The campaign will also include enforcement actions against the unsafe driving behaviors of the operators of large trucks and buses. State police and highway patrol leaders will work to change the high-risk behaviors of motorists that lead to crashes through education and awareness, partnerships, and high-visibility traffic enforcement.

"Far too often, troopers, officers and deputies are called upon to notify a family member that a loved one is not coming home,” said Col. Michael Edmonson, Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and General Chair of the IACP Division of State and Provincial Police “We, as law enforcement leaders, have an obligation to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to reduce highway fatalities in our communities, hence the Drive to Save Lives campaign. Through our collective efforts to educate and raise awareness about the leading causes of fatalities, our expanded partnerships to address these causes, and high visibility proactive enforcement to change behaviors, our goal is to reduce highway fatalities nationwide by 15 percent in 2014.”

“The IACP is thrilled to partner with the United States Department of Transportation on the Drive to Save Lives campaign,” said Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, IACP President. “During my 34 years as a law enforcement officer, I have responded to far too many crashes caused by speeding and witnessed too many deaths because drivers and/or passengers were not wearing their seatbelts, and because of impaired and distracted driving. Crashes are preventable -- and that is what this campaign aims to do. Prevent them from occurring in the first place. Through our partnership, we will work to reduce highway deaths in 2014, and the coming years, because even one death is too many.”

“Last year, we lost 33,000 lives on our nation’s roads, many of them because of drunk driving and from people not wearing seatbelts, speeding, and driving distracted,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “That’s why I’m pleased to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police in its ambitious goal to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent. The Department of Transportation stands ready to do its part to help them achieve it.”

Another major element of the Drive to Save Lives Campaign is officer safety. Traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers. When discussing the importance of officer safety to the success of the Drive to Save Lives Campaign, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joseph Farrow, chair of the IACP Highway Safety Committee commented: “As we Drive to Save Lives, it is important that we include the men and women of law enforcement in this campaign.” “Last year, 46 officers were killed on our roadways. This represents more than 40 percent of all line of duty deaths for the year. Equally troubling is the fact that the number of officers struck and killed while outside of their vehicles was once again in double digits, continuing the trend of the past decade.”

The nationwide Campaign is not just a yearlong effort by state police and highway patrol leaders and their partners, this Campaign will be an ongoing effort to prevent the needless deaths that occur on Virginia’s roadways each year. Follow the IACP campaign on twitter at #Drive2SaveLives and Virginia State Police’s campaign on Facebook.com/VirginiaStatePolice.

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