CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia State Police are warning people busting out of home quarantine and hitting the road for the holiday weekend to slow down.
More troopers are on patrol for the Memorial Day long weekend as part of “Operation C.A.R.E” - which stands for crash awareness and reduction effort.
State Police say they’ve seen a steady increase in traffic since the governor loosened restrictions. They’re also catching more drivers flying at speeds above 100 miles per hour.
"We want safety for everyone. It’s not only the people in your car. It’s the motoring public. It’s everyone on the roads. It gets very dangerous for everyone, not just the people in that vehicles at those speeds. We just want people to slow down, be safe. We understand people still have to get around on the roadway, but we want you to get there safely and get home to your loved ones as well as we do,” Trooper Mike Cooper said.
Eleven people died in crashes on Virginia roadways over the Memorial Day weekend the past two years.
Police are also reminding drivers to move over when they come up on emergency vehicles stopped along the road.
Virginia State Police Press Release:
RICHMOND – Traditionally the Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the summer travel season and significant increases in traffic on most interstate corridors across Virginia. Although highway traffic volumes are not expected to be as considerable this holiday weekend as in past years, traffic has still been steadily increasing in recent weeks as portions of the Commonwealth have transitioned to Phase I of the Governor’s “Forward Virginia” plan. With more taking advantage of loosened restrictions, Virginia State Police is reminding all drivers of the importance and necessity of exercising safe and legal driving practices.
“Even though these are unusual times for everyone, nothing has changed in relation to the laws or messaging related to being safe on the road,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Because of the lighter traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, state police troopers have witnessed an alarming uptick in the number of excessive speed violations. As a result, troopers will be stepping up their presence and enforcement during the holiday weekend in an effort to increase motorists' compliance of traffic laws and decrease the reckless speeds and aggressive driving."
"Triple-digit speeds put everyone on the road at risk," said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. "We are constantly reminded in these times to make safety a priority. Complying with speed limits, buckling up, and not driving distracted or impaired are just as important to one’s health as wearing a mask and social distancing.”
To help safeguard Virginia’s highways, the Virginia State Police will be increasing patrols during the long holiday weekend as part of the Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.). Beginning Friday, May 22, 2020, state police will join law enforcement around the country for Operation C.A.R.E., a state-sponsored, national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failing to wear a seat belt. The 2020 Memorial Day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. on May 22 and continues through midnight Monday, May 25, 2020.
During the four-day statistical counting periods for both the 2019 and 2018 Memorial Day weekends, 11 individuals lost their lives and 708 others were injured due to traffic crashes on Virginia’s highways.*
With the increased patrols, Virginia State Police also reminds drivers of Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to move over when approaching a vehicle stopped alongside the road that is equipped with flashing red, blue and amber lights. If unable to move over, then drivers are required to cautiously pass the emergency vehicle.