RICHMOND — Virginia experienced a 53% decrease in the number of fatal traffic crashes over the 2023 Thanksgiving holiday, according to Virginia State Police (VSP).
Preliminary data indicates nine people lost their lives over the five-day holiday statistical counting period, compared to 19 fatalities in 2022. In a majority of the crashes, those who died were not wearing a seat belt, VSP said.
“The reduction in traffic crashes is definitely encouraging and we appreciate everyone who put in the extra effort to drive safely and responsibly over the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “As we now head into the winter holiday season, I urge Virginians to please buckle up, not follow too closely, comply with posted speed limits, and drive drug and alcohol-free.”
According to VSP, during the five-day counting period, which began at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 22, and concluded at midnight Nov. 26, nine people lost their lives to eight traffic crashes on Virginia roadways. The crashes occurred in Amelia, Buchanan, Fairfax, Henrico, Henry, Madison, and Wythe counties, as well as the city of Chesapeake. A crash on Interstate 77 in Wythe County on Nov. 22 claimed the lives of a couple from Ohio.
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. Operation CARE is an annual, state-sponsored, national program during which state police increase their visibility and traffic enforcement efforts during the five-day statistical counting period.
The 2023 Thanksgiving Holiday CARE initiative led to state troopers citing 4,520 drivers for speeding and 1,840 for reckless driving, VSP noted. State troopers also arrested 89 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and wrote 427 citations for not wearing a seat belt.
Overall, state troopers worked 1,359 crashes, a decrease of nearly a hundred traffic crashes compared to the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday. Of the 2023 traffic crashes, 137 of them resulted in injuries.
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, VSP said.