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Expect extra police on Arlington roads and Virginia highways this week

ACPD officer gives out citation for expired tags during November 2023 Street Smart campaign in Courthouse (staff photo by James Jarvis)

It’s Thanksgiving week, one of the busiest and most dangerous times to drive.

As people head out of town for family gatherings — and gather locally for libations with friends — police in Arlington and throughout Virginia will be on the lookout for traffic and safety violations.

Through next Thursday, Nov. 30, Arlington County police are participating in the annual Click It or Ticket seatbelt campaign.

More from an ACPD press release:

This Thanksgiving holiday, the Arlington County Police Department is again partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the high-visibility Click It or Ticket seat belt awareness campaign. From November 19 to November 30, the law enforcement community will be working together to reduce the number of fatalities that occur when vehicle passengers fail to buckle up. Everyone wants you to reach your destination safely, so it is critical to practice safe driving habits, like buckling your seat belt, on each and every ride.

According to NHTSA, there were 361 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2021 (6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 24, to 5:59 a.m. on Monday, November 29). Half (50%) were unrestrained. Not wearing a seat belt proved to be deadly at any time of the day during the holiday weekend: 52% of those killed in nighttime crashes were unbuckled, and 46% of those killed in daytime crashes also were unbuckled. Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective things anyone can do to prevent injury or death in a vehicle collision. The Click It or Ticket campaign combines powerful messages about seat belt safety with increased enforcement for unbuckled motorists.

Virginia law requires those under the age of 18 to be properly secured in a safety belt or child safety seat, no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle, and the driver is responsible for making sure this happens. In addition, Virginia law requires those in the front seat of vehicles to be properly restrained, regardless of age, and those 18 and older can be ticketed.

To learn more about the NHTSA Click It or Ticket campaign, visit their website.

Virginia State Police, meanwhile, will be conducting extra enforcement during peak holiday travel times.

Expect more state troopers out on Virginia highways between Wednesday and Sunday, enforcing speed limits and looking for drunk drivers.

There were 19 traffic fatalities across the Commonwealth during the five-day Thanksgiving travel period last year, up from five in 2021, according to state police.

More, below, from a VSP press release.

Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the winter holiday travel season. For many Virginians, this means hitting the roads, and in some cases, travelling long distances to share time, and turkey, with loved ones. Wanting everyone to enjoy this holiday with family and friends, the Virginia State Police is reminding drivers and their passengers to always buckle up. In 2022, over half of all traffic fatalities in Virginia involved people not wearing a seat belt. *

“Far too many Virginians continue to lose their lives on our roadways for reasons that can be prevented simply by wearing a seat belt,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Virginia State Police, like your families, wants you to safely arrive at your holiday destination. This can only happen if drivers do what they can to make our highways as safe as possible – ditching distractions, complying with posted speed limits and wearing a seat belt.”

Virginia State Police will once again be participating in Operation C.A.R.E – Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. This means state troopers will be increasing their presence and enforcement efforts during the five-day holiday statistical counting period. The period runs from 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, through midnight, Sunday, Nov. 26.

The 2022 Thanksgiving CARE initiative resulted in state troopers citing 4,407 speeders and 1,803 reckless drivers statewide. Virginia state troopers arrested 92 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and cited 454 for seat belt violations.

There were 19 traffic fatalities in Virginia during the counting period in 2022, and five in 2021. Preliminary data indicates that as of Nov. 15, 2023, there have been 736 fatalities on Virginia’s roads this year, down from 813 traffic deaths on the same date in 2022.

The Thanksgiving C.A.R.E. initiative coincides with the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign and Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) “To Get There” winter holidays DUI-prevention campaign. Both are educational and enforcement-oriented traffic safety initiatives aimed at saving lives on Virginia’s highways through increased usage of seat belts and the deterrence of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

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