(WFXR) — Not only did the 2021 Memorial Day weekend see a rise in overall traffic volumes on Virginia’s highways, but also an spike in traffic deaths, nearly double the number of deaths from the 2020 Memorial Day weekend.
According to Virginia State Police, preliminary reports indicate 14 people lost their lives during the four-day, holiday statistical counting period. However, during the same period in 2020, there were only eight deaths that resulted from crashes on Virginia highways.
The statistical counting period began at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 28 and ended at midnight on Monday, May 31.
Of the 14 individuals killed this year on the Commonwealth’s highways, police say two were riding on motorcycles and eight were not wearing a seatbelt.
The fatal crashes occurred in the cities of Richmond and Virginia Beach, and the counties of Albemarle, Amherst, Bedford, Botetourt, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Fairfax, Northampton, Prince George, and Tazewell.
“I understand that most Virginians have been driving less in the past year. They may be feeling a bit green in the driver seat and their patience may be a bit short,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “But the rules of the road haven’t changed and safety on the roadways should be of paramount concern to everyone. This holiday weekend, as well as the entire year so far, have seen far too many people lose their lives on Virginia’s highways. Speeding, reckless driving and distractions are leading to tragedy. Every one of these actions is a choice, a choice that has left too many families in mourning. In addition, eight people made the choice not to buckle up, a simple action that could have saved their lives and kept a family whole. Virginia State Police urge all Virginia drivers to step up and make safe decisions when they get into their vehicles. You have the opportunity to break this devastating streak.”
This year, Virginia State Police say the Memorial Day Operation C.A.R.E. Initiative fell within the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
During the entire statistical counting period for “Click It or Ticket” and the Memorial Day weekend — which ran from 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 24 through midnight on Monday, May 31 — state troopers carried out the following actions:
- Cited 5,553 speeders
- Assisted 2,302 disabled motorists
- Cited 1,818 reckless drivers
- Cited 740 people for seatbelt violations
- Made 281 felony arrests
- Arrested 79 impaired drivers
According to officials, the funds generated from Virginia State Police summonses go directly toward court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding, and teacher retirement.