Traffic Crashes Claim 11 Lives Thanksgiving Weekend in Virginia - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Traffic Crashes Claim 11 Lives Thanksgiving Weekend in Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va.– According to Virginia State Police, preliminary reports confirm traffic crashes on the state's highways claimed 11 lives during the statistical counting period for the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Of those 11 killed, police said eight were not wearing seat belts. Alcohol was a factor in at least four of the fatal traffic crashes, according to VSP. 

Police said two of the fatal traffic crashes occurred in Mecklenburg County. One of those crashes claimed the life of a passenger, and injured eight others. According to police, the 76-year-old deceased male passenger was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and was ejected from the vehicle as it overturned several times. The single-vehicle crash occurred Sunday on Route 58.

The remaining crashes occurred in the City of Norfolk, police said, and the counties of Bedford, Carroll, Chesterfield, Frederick, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, and Prince George. The City of Norfolk traffic crash claimed the life of a pedestrian. Virginia State Police responded to a total of 1,140 traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday statistical counting period, which began just after midnight Wednesday, and concluded at midnight Sunday.

According to VSP, 14 individuals died in 13 traffic crashes during Thanksgiving weekend last year, which was the highest number of fatal crashes for the holiday since 2009. That year, 16 motorists lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia highways.

During the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend, state troopers participated in the annual, nationwide Operation C.A.R.E., an acronym for Combined Accident Reduction Effort. The state-sponsored traffic safety enforcement program focuses on reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities caused by speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.

As part of the Operation C.A.R.E. initiative, Virginia State Police cited 9,841 speeders and another 2,697 reckless drivers statewide. Troopers arrested 98 impaired drivers and issued 772 seat belt citations. State police also cited 213 child restraint violations. In addition, Virginia troopers assisted 3,341 motorists.

All Virginians are reminded that on Nov. 25, 2013, Virginia State Police also began participating in the annual Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving nationwide anti-DUI campaign.

"December is often a time for visiting with loved ones, and reflecting on the year past and the year ahead," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "Yet, as demonstrated in at least four of the fatal crashes that occurred during this past holiday weekend, too many lives are lost because of the recklessness of a drunk driver."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 760 individuals died as a result of drunken driving-related traffic crashes nationwide during December 2011.

Virginia State Police is encouraging people to take steps to ensure their holiday celebrations don't end in tragedy:

     • Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin; plan a way to get home safely at the end of the night.

     • If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.

     • Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.

     • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone's life, and inaction could cost a life. 

"The holidays should be a time for celebration, not tragedy," Colonel Flaherty said.  "Help us make Virginia's roadways safer by never driving after drinking. Remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving."

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