VIRGINIA (WFXR) — With Virginians getting prepared to hit the roads for the holiday season, Virginia State Police are reminding drivers to stay safe and buckle up. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and traditionally marks the start of the winter holiday travel season. During this time, many will be traveling on the highways to visit loved ones.

VSP reporters that in 2022, more than half of all traffic-related deaths throughout the Commonwealth involved people not wearing a seat belt.

Virginia State Police, like your families, wants you to safely arrive at your holiday destination.  This can only happen if drivers do what they can to make our highways as safe as possible – ditching distractions, complying with posted speed limits and wearing a seat belt,” 

said Colonel Gary T. Settle.

With the hope to reduce deadly crashes and injuries, state police will be participating in Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E). From Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 26, travelers can expect to see an increase in troopers along the highways.

The five-day statistical counting period will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to data from state police, during the 2022 Thanksgiving CARE Initiate state troopers cited 4,407 speeders and 1,803 reckless drivers in Virginia. Troopers also arrested 92 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs, and cities 454 people for seatbelt violations.

During the 2022 counting period, 19 people passed away in crashes and five passed away in 2021.

According to preliminary data, as of Nov. 15, there have been 736 fatalities on Virginia’s roads this year. On the same date last year, VSP says there were 813 traffic-related deaths.

VSP’s Operation C.A.R.E initiative also corresponds with the annual “Click it or Ticket” campaign and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) “To Get There” winter holidays DUI prevention campaign.