Holiday celebrations quickly turned sorrowful for 10 families who lost a loved one to a traffic crash during the Christmas holiday weekend. Preliminary numbers report 10 individuals were killed in eight traffic crashes statewide. The four-day Christmas statistical counting period began Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, and concluded at midnight Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009. During last year’s five-day Christmas statistical counting period, six people lost their lives in traffic crashes statewide.
Of the 10 killed, four were teenagers. A 19-year-old female and 16-year-old female were killed in a traffic crash in Prince Edward County on Christmas Eve. Neither one was wearing a safety belt. The teenagers were thrown from the vehicle they were riding in as it overturned multiple times.
The day after Christmas, Dec. 26, an 18-year-old male was killed in Campbell County when the vehicle he was driving ran off the road and overturned. He also was not wearing a safety belt. That same day in Newport News, a 17-year-old driver was killed when his vehicle struck another vehicle head-on. The 53-year-old driver of the second vehicle also died at the scene of the crash.
Virginia State Police investigated two separate fatal crashes in Accomack County over the Christmas holiday weekend. The remaining fatal traffic crashes occurred in the counties of Henrico, Fairfax and Rockbridge. None of these five individuals was wearing a safety belt.
Studies show that by not wearing a safety belt, one is five times more likely to be killed in a crash and three times more likely to sustain serious injuries. Virginia law requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear safety belts and to ensure that children under age 16 are properly restrained.
Alcohol was a factor in at least two of the deadly crashes.“No one wants to see a family suffer from the loss or severe injury of a loved one because of a traffic crash, especially during the holidays,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “As Virginians begin to make plans for New Year’s, we can’t stress enough the importance of all drivers and passengers to make safe, responsible decisions when getting into a vehicle. Buckle up, obey speed limits, and never drink and drive.”The 2009-2010 New Year’s four-day statistical counting period begins at 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Eve and concludes at midnight Jan. 3, 2010. In 2008, during the four-day holiday period, five people were killed in traffic fatalities statewide.Virginia State Police will continue its aggressive DUI patrols and preventative enforcement efforts as part of Checkpoint Strikeforce throughout the New Year’s weekend. For more information on Checkpoint Strikeforce, go to http://wrap.org.