Drivers Beware – Air, Land & Speed Returns to I-95 and I-81

Motorists will notice an increase in troopers on the road this weekend as part of another stepped-up traffic enforcement project. Operation Air, Land and Speed resumes Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010, along the north-south Interstates of 81 and 95. The enhanced patrols are aimed at improving traffic safety on both stretches of highway by increasing the presence of state troopers in an effort to deter fatal crashes and reckless driving behavior.

As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, September 16, 2010, there have been 11 fatal crashes resulting in 12 deaths on I-81 and 16 fatal crashes resulting in 21 deaths on I-95 reported to Virginia State Police for the year.

“Troopers will be patrolling to make certain drivers are paying attention and not driving too fast, driving aggressively, or driving distracted which are factors that can lead to fatal crashes,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Motorists are not only advised to slow down and obey speed limits but also to avoid distractions and drive drug and alcohol free. If they don’t, then our troopers will aggressively enforce traffic laws to make sure they do.”

This will be the fourth Operation Air, Land and Speed on I-81 and I-95 this year and the sixteenth operation conducted since the program’s inception. The last time VSP targeted both highways was in July where a total of 6,264 summonses and arrests were made. The Virginia State Police also stopped a total of 3,313 speeders, 628 reckless drivers and 12 drunk drivers on both interstates. A total of 248 safety belt violations were cited, and 15 drug and felony arrests were made by state troopers.

The enforcement effort targets all 177 miles of I-95 from border to border; and all 325 miles of I-81 from border to border. A total of 139,861 summonses and arrests have resulted from all 27 Operation Air, Land & Speed initiatives conducted across Virginia since 2006.

With the increased presence of troopers on the interstates, motorists are also advised of Virginia’s “Move Over” law. Since 2002, state law has required drivers to move over a travel lane or, when unable to safely do so, to proceed with caution when passing an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road. As of July 1, 2010, the law was expanded to include towing, repair and highway maintenance vehicles displaying amber-colored flashing lights.

The comprehensive enforcement project utilizes troopers, supervisors, motorcycle units and motor carrier teams. State police operational duties on other interstates, primary and secondary roads are not affected during the operation. Funding for the enforcement initiative is provided through federal highway safety monies.

Funds generated from summonses issued by state police go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which benefits public school construction, technology funding and teacher retirement.