Troopers remind Virginians to drive safely over holidays

Virginia State Police (FILE)
Virginia State Police (FILE)(WVIR)
Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 at 4:10 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State Police are reminding drivers to follows traffic laws and to be safe on the roadways as the year comes to an end.

In 2020, troopers said the state has seen a spike in deadly speed-related crashes, according to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office. Year-to-date there have been more speed-related traffic deaths than in all of 2019.

“Not only have speed-related traffic deaths increased this year, so have alcohol-related traffic deaths. Virginia is on pace to have more total fatal traffic crashes in 2020 than in 2019,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police. “And all of this while overall traffic crashes in Virginia this year are down significantly. This means each crash has been deadlier – deadlier because of speed, alcohol, distractions and individuals not wearing seatbelts.”

No matter the reason for being out on the road, troopers are urging drivers to be responsible, obey the traffic laws, ditch distractions and wear a seatbelt.

“Every year during the holidays, there is an increase in drunk-driving related fatalities and crashes across the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in December 2018, there were 839 lives lost in drunk-driving crashes nationwide. Of the 839 deaths, 285 occurred during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period,” troopers said.

If you plan on gathering with a small group during the holidays, police say to remember the following:

  • Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a friend, call family, call a cab or use public transportation.
  • If you know someone has been drinking. Do not let them drive. Arrange another safe way home.
  • If you believe you see an impaired driver on the road, call police. Remain alert and don’t hesitate to dial #77 to notify your nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center. Your actions could save someone’s life.

Police are also reminding drivers that it will be illegal to hold their cellphone while driving in the state. This becomes effective on Jan. 1.

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