RICHMOND – Three pedestrians and a motorcyclist were among the 14 who lost their lives on Virginia highways over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to preliminary data from the Virginia State Police.
Eight of the 10 who lost their lives in vehicles equipped with seatbelts chose not to wear one, police added.
“Not sure how many times we can say this until folks start paying attention, but ‘Seatbelts save lives,’” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We are now heading into the 2022 holiday season with 14 families grieving the loss of their loved ones due to these Thanksgiving holiday traffic crashes. For eight of those 14, the simple act of buckling up may well have prevented such tragic outcomes. Please buckle up every one in your vehicle every time and on every ride.”
The fatal crashes occurred in Brunswick, Campbell, Chesterfield, Floyd, Greensville, Henrico, Loudoun, Powhatan, Prince William, Rockingham and Spotsylvania counties, as well as the cities of Richmond, Roanoke and Virginia Beach.
The 14 fatalities recorded during the five-day period which began at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 23 and ended at midnight Nov. 27 were an increase from 2021, when there were five traffic fatalities during the five-day Thanksgiving statistical counting period according to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
In an effort to prevent traffic deaths and injuries during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Virginia State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E. — the Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort — an annual, state-sponsored, national program in which state police increase their visibility and traffic enforcement efforts.
This year’s initiative resulted in 4,413 speeders and 1,803 reckless drivers cited statewide, according to state police, with troopers arresting 93 for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and citing 454 for seatbelt violations.
State police reported responding to 1,449 traffic crashes during the period, with 138 of those resulting in injuries. State police also assisted 890 disabled or stranded motorists during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Virginia State Police noted funds generated from summonses issued by Virginia State Police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.