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Patience urged on roads over holiday

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

An anticipated increase in vehicles on the Commonwealth’s roads over the Thanksgiving holiday has Virginia State Police (VSP) urging motorists to be patient and put safety first.

An estimated 11% more motorists are expected to travel over the holiday this year, compared to 2020, when COVID-19 put a halt to many family gatherings. That means 1.4 million Virginians are anticipated to be traveling at some point during the holiday’s statistical counting period, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and concludes at midnight Sunday.

“With traffic on the roads increasing and many people anxious to get to their destination, I encourage all Virginians to be patient. Buckle up and take your time,” said Col. Gary T. Settle, VSP superintendent. “Your family wants you to arrive safely and in a frame of mind to enjoy all the holiday has to offer. Making sure you are driving the posted speed limit, driving for conditions and wearing your seatbelt are the best ways to stay safe on the road, so you can enjoy the holiday.”

Twelve people were killed on Virginia roads during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday in 2020. That was up from eight in 2019. VSP hopes to put a stop to any increase in traffic deaths this year by once again increasing visibility and traffic enforcement through Operation C.A.R.E (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort).

Last year’s C.A.R.E. initiative resulted in 4,930 citations being issued by state troopers across Virginia over the Thanksgiving holiday. An official breakdown determined over 1,700 reckless drivers were cited, 67 drivers were charged with driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs and nearly 500 drivers failed to buckle up themselves and/or juvenile passengers.

State Police also is aiming to increase seatbelt usage across Virginia over the holiday. This year, the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign also falls within the holiday.

As motorists make their way across Virginia, they also are reminded to abide by the Commonwealth’s “Move Over” law. The law requires motorists to move over into a farther lane, if possible, when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road. If moving over isn’t possible, drivers must cautiously pass the emergency vehicle.

The Move Over law also applies to vehicle equipped with amber lights.

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