Thanksgiving Holiday Deaths Spiked in Virginia
Thanksgiving holiday deaths spiked in Virginia in 2020 due to speeding and the failure of some motorists to wear their seat belts. As thousands prepare to travel for the Christmas holidays, the fatalities serve as a reminder to drivers to take care on the highways.
Virginia State Police reported eight fatal crashes that left 10 people dead over the Thanksgiving period from Nov. 25 to Nov. 29. That was two more than in 2019 when eight people lost their lives but less than in 2018 when police recorded 12 road deaths.
State police responded to 733 crashes over a five-day Thanksgiving period. Of these, 117 resulted in injuries. Fatal crashes were reported in the cities of Newport News, Lynchburg, and Richmond and the counties of Frederick, Pittsylvania, Rockingham, and Shenandoah.
Shelby Crouch, a spokeswoman for Virginia State Police, said speed was a factor in four fatal wrecks. These four crashes claimed the lives of six people including a 6-year-old boy. State police singled out excess speed and a lack of safety restraints as factors that continue to cost Virginians their lives. Alcohol caused one crash. A pedestrian was the victim of another.
Over Thanksgiving, Virginia State Police participated in Operation C.A.R.E. ‐ Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort. It’s an annual, state‐sponsored, national program in which police officers increase their visibility and step up their traffic enforcement efforts over the five‐day statistical counting period.
Excess speed and the failure to wear seat belts are two important elements of the C.A.R.E. effort. Troopers cited 4,930 speeders and 1,706 reckless drivers statewide over the Thanksgiving holiday. Virginia State Police troopers charged 67 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and 498 drivers with failing to buckle up themselves or to put juvenile passengers in appropriate restraints. Money generated from the summonses issued by Virginia State Police over the Thanksgiving period go directly to court fees and the state’s Literary Fund, which “benefits public school construction, technology funding, and teacher retirement.”
Earlier this year our car wreck injury lawyers highlighted an alarming increase in deaths of motorists who failed to wear seat belts in Virginia. Figures released by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revealed 10% more people have been killed while not wearing a seatbelt in 2020 compared to 2019. Virginia has a seat belt use rate of 85.4%. Although this is a major improvement over past years, as many as 15% of drivers and passengers are still failing to protect themselves adequately. If you fail to buckle up you endanger your life or the safety of family members. You are also breaking the law in Virginia.
Why Are the Holidays More Dangerous on the Roads of Virginia?
Thanksgiving holiday deaths spiked in Virginia in 2020. This is not an anomaly. The holidays are the most dangerous times of the year for driving in Virginia and other states. The American Safety Council states Thanksgiving is the second most dangerous holiday of the year after July 4. The death toll on America’s roads over the Independence Day holiday habitually exceeds 500. The sheer number of cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the roads over the holidays pushes up the death and injury rate but there are other factors, namely:
1. Drivers speeding to reach their destinations.
People are often in a hurry over the holidays, fueling bad driving and even road rage. Set out early and be patient. Excess speed is a leading cause of deaths on the highways of Virginia. Drivers who rush to reach their destination may fail to pay attention to other drivers, run red lights, make dangerous turns at intersections and fail to see pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists.
2. Distracted driving
Distracted driving is a major killer on the road. Holiday drivers often travel with their families. Kids in cars may be a distraction as well as electronic devices. Aim to minimize distractions and put your cellphone away unless you are using it for hands-free navigation.
3. Drunk driving
Intoxication caused at least one death over the 2020 Thanksgiving period. More people drink over celebrations like Independence Day and Thanksgiving. If you attend a party appoint a designated driver who is not drinking or call an Uber or a Lyft.
Many drivers hit the road after work and don’t build in breaks. Plan to leave early and allow time to stop on the way to unwind or even take a brief nap. Rotate drivers if possible. Fatigue has a similar effect as alcohol on driver behavior and causes scores of deaths every year in Virginia.
5. Bad weather
Certain holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year often see heavy rain or even snow. Try to avoid driving in poor conditions or slow down if you are caught in a storm.
Don’t stress out if you hit traffic congestion over the holidays or if you run late. It’s better to be tardy than to end up as a statistic. The attorneys and staff at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers wish you happy holidays and urge you to take care on the roads. If you end up hurt in an accident, please call us for a free consultation about your options.