Prince William County, VA… Many people will hit the road during the upcoming long weekend in search of that last bit of summertime adventure. The increased travel means more vehicles on the roads, and data shows an increase in motor vehicle crashes as well. To help drivers and passengers remember the importance of buckling up, the Prince William County Police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are teaming up for Operation Crash Reduction.
Prince William County Police will be increasing education and enforcement efforts during the upcoming holiday weekend, from October 9 through October 12. Drivers are reminded of the importance of seat belt use and other safe driving practices. Not only is seatbelt use and passenger restraint the law in Virginia and every participating state but buckling up provides the best defense against injury or death in a crash.
From 2014 to 2018, according to NHTSA, seven states and the District of Columbia had some of the nation's highest numbers of traffic crash-induced fatalities. In addition to Washington, D.C., Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia experienced a total of 882 fatal crashes between October 1 and October 15 each year. This is the highest number of fatal crashes for the first 15 days of any month during this same period.
In fact, from 2014 to 2018, October was the most likely month for fatal crashes to occur in these states, with 1,772 total fatal crashes. In these fatal crashes, more than 45% of occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses were unrestrained. During that same period in these states, more fatal crashes occurred on the October holiday weekend (257) than during the holiday periods of Thanksgiving or Memorial Day. This holiday period was the most dangerous of 2018 for these states, with 52 fatal crashes.
"For several years now, we have had this troubling trend in this East Coast region," said Stephanie Hancock, NHTSA Regional Administrator. "We know that speed, distraction, and impairment are the root causes of most of the crashes in these states. However, seat belt and child safety-seat use are your primary sources of protection in crashes caused by a speeding, impaired, or distracted driver."
Police will check for seat belt use, and child safety-seat use, during Operation Crash Reduction. Seat belts save lives, and everyone — front seat and back, child and adult — should remember to buckle up.