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Virginia State Police warn of heavy traffic, rain during Memorial Day weekend travel

FILE PHOTO - I-95 in Virginia. (7News)
FILE PHOTO - I-95 in Virginia. (7News)
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As the Memorial Day weekend approaches, the Virginia State Police (VSP) are urging all drivers to take necessary precautions and plan ahead for their holiday travels. Travel and weather forecasts for the upcoming weekend indicate significant traffic volume and inclement weather conditions, potentially leading to delays and congested highways. In light of these conditions, the VSP is strongly encouraging motorists to pack their patience and exercise caution on the roads.

To ensure the safety of all travelers, the state police are reminding drivers to eliminate distractions, fasten their seat belts, and refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These measures are crucial in preventing accidents and promoting responsible driving practices.

In an effort to equip travelers with essential information, the VSP is advising individuals to "know before you go." This can be achieved by checking the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) 511 traffic cameras, accessing real-time road condition updates by dialing 511 on a phone, visiting the website, or downloading the 511 app.

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Beginning on Friday, the VSP will be participating in the Operation Crash Awareness Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E), a state-sponsored national program aimed at reducing crashes, fatalities, and injuries resulting from impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear seat belts. The statistical counting period for Memorial Day weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. on May 26 and concludes at midnight on Monday, May 29, 2023. Throughout this period, all available state police troopers and supervisors will be actively patrolling to ensure safe and responsible traffic flow.

“Virginians need to make traffic safety a priority every day and, especially, as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and summer travel season,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Memorial Day weekend is filled with celebrations, vacations, outdoor festivals and backyard cookouts, which is why we need all motorists to share the road responsibly by driving smart, safe and sober.”

The VSP had already demonstrated their commitment to road safety by joining the kickoff event for the annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign on Monday, May 22, 2023. This campaign, which focuses on heightened enforcement and education, aims to underscore the life-saving importance of wearing seat belts for all vehicle occupants.

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Reflecting on the previous year's Memorial Day initiatives, the VSP reported that 16 individuals lost their lives in traffic crashes on Virginia roadways during the Operation C.A.R.E. effort.* Additionally, the combined Memorial Day C.A.R.E. initiative and "Click It or Ticket" campaign resulted in 4,888 citations for speeding, 1,875 citations for reckless driving, and the arrest of 90 impaired drivers. Furthermore, 659 individuals were cited for seat belt violations, 117 for child safety restraint violations, and 144 felony arrests were made. Notably, the VSP also assisted 1,735 disabled motorists during this period.

As the VSP ramps up their patrols, they are reminding drivers about Virginia's "Move Over" law, which mandates that motorists move to the adjacent lane when approaching an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road. In situations where changing lanes is not possible, drivers must exercise caution and pass the emergency vehicle carefully. This law extends to vehicles equipped with amber lights, protecting the safety of workers as well.

The Virginia State Police are committed to ensuring the well-being of all motorists during the Memorial Day weekend. By adhering to safety guidelines, staying informed about road conditions, and adopting responsible driving behaviors, travelers can contribute to a safer and more enjoyable holiday experience.

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