As Labor Day traffic on Virginia’s highways increases so will the presence of Virginia State Police troopers. Motorists traversing the Commonwealth this holiday weekend can expect to see 75-percent of the State Police’s uniformed workforce on patrol statewide. Last year, Virginia experienced a sharp rise in traffic deaths over the Labor Day weekend with 14 people losing their lives during the four-day holiday statistical counting period. Seven were killed in traffic crashes in 2008.
State police Thursday joined Governor Bob McDonnell, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) and local law enforcement to kick off Virginia’s annual Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, which is a region-wide effort that combines stepped-up enforcement efforts and proactive public education to promote a multijurisdictional effort in the fight against drunk driving.
“In just the past two months drunk drivers have struck and injured four state police troopers,” said Colonel. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Those life-threatening incidents just go to show that drunk drivers in Virginia do not discriminate when it comes to their victims on Virginia’s highways. Nor do such individuals care, because if they did care, then they would never have made the irresponsible decision to drink and drive.”
“If you do choose to drive drunk, then you will be stopped. You will be arrested. And, you will be prosecuted. No one is above the consequences of driving impaired,” said Colonel Flaherty at Thursday’s press conference at the State Police Academy in Richmond. “Putting an end to drunk driving takes everyone’s participation, whether it’s planning ahead, taking the keys, being a designated driver or calling a cab.”
In addition to the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, the Virginia State Police will engage in the annual Operation C.A.R.E. traffic enforcement campaign. The Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.) is a state-sponsored, national program designed to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and failure to use occupant restraints. As a participating agency, Virginia State Police will increase visibility and traffic enforcement efforts throughout the Commonwealth beginning Friday morning, Sept. 3, 2010, at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through midnight Monday, Sept. 6, 2010.
In 2009, Virginia State Police arrested 164 drunk drivers during the four-day Labor Day weekend. Troopers also cited 9,398 speeders and 2,587 reckless drivers. They also issued 827 citations for adults who failed to buckle up, and 252 tickets to adults who failed to properly secure their infants and children.