RICHMOND, Va. — In the four-day period around Labor Day, the Virginia State Police said 17 people died in 15 traffic wrecks. Many more were injured.
Hampton Roads didn't come out unscathed. A release from the department said some of the people who died were involved in crashes in Newport News, Chesapeake and Isle of Wight.
Even though social distancing is still encouraged to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and leaders were discouraging in-person gatherings, the data from 2020 matches the number of deaths from 2019, according to police.
On Labor Day weekend in 2018, 14 people died in accidents. On the same weekend in 2017, there were only five traffic deaths.
"The 2020 traffic fatality statistics continue to trend in an unacceptable direction and with 116 additional crashes with injuries over the holiday weekend, I fear that preliminary number of deaths may still increase," said VSP Superintendent, Col. Gary Settle.
He said more people might have survived if they had been wearing their seat belts, and following basic roadway rules: don't drive tired, distracted or drunk.
"I know this year has been stressful and everyone wants to enjoy a holiday weekend, but every decision you make, both before and while you are at the wheel, can affect if you or someone else on the road makes it safely home," Settle wrote.
Those 15 fatal crashes were just the tip of the iceberg for Labor Day weekend. In total, the state police said they're investigating 484 crashes from those four days.
With increased patrols out along Virginia's roadways for the holiday, troopers took these precautions to try to prevent accidents:
- Stopped 4,550 speeders
- Stopped 1,561 reckless drivers
- Arrested 55 drivers for DUI/DUID
- Cited 445 seat belt violations
- Assisted 1,465 disabled/stranded motorists