The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and AAA Mid-Atlantic are joining Virginia’s first responders, local law enforcement, Virginia State Police and VDOT to focus on saving lives starting with the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Those organizations urge increased seat belt use by participating in the national Click It or Ticket campaign through June 4. This annual campaign takes place during the Memorial Day holiday, one of the year’s busiest and deadliest travel weekends.
DMV is partnering with the Virginia State Police, local law enforcement and AAA Mid-Atlantic to start off the Click It or Ticket campaign.
AAA predicts more than 42 million people will be traveling nationwide for the long Memorial Day weekend. That’s just 1% shy of the holiday travel numbers from the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Nearly 90% of all travelers, or about 37 million people, will be on the roads.
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In the Commonwealth, 1.16 million Virginians will be traveling, with more than one million of them predicted to be hitting the roads.
“The roads of Virginia will be very busy this weekend with holiday travelers and that means there’s a greater potential for crashes,” said Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “We want everyone to be safe. We encourage drivers to limit distractions, obey the speed limit and make sure they buckle up everyone in the vehicle before they set out on that Great American Road Trip.”
More than 18% of Virginians still don’t wear their seat belt, according to the state’s most recent seat belt survey. In Virginia last year, there were 5,427 unrestrained people involved in crashes, 3,702 unrestrained injuries, and 375 deaths involving unrestrained people.
Last year, approximately one of every two crash fatalities in Virginia involved occupants who did not wear a seat belt. People aged 21-30 made up 68% of unrestrained fatalities and the highest number of unrestrained fatalities happened between midnight and 3 a.m. (70%).
“These numbers mean thousands of Virginians still choose not to make the simple, safe choice of buckling up as their best defense against a reckless, impaired or distracted driver,” says DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “By participating in Click It or Ticket, we are raising awareness and educating Virginians on the importance of always wearing a seat belt, every time.”
Law enforcement will support DMV’s seat belt awareness messaging by conducting high visibility enforcement along busy roads and highways to prevent avoidable crashes and save lives.
“Buckling up is not merely a legal obligation,” said Col. Gary Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “Wearing a seat belt is an act of self-preservation. Moreover, the impact of wearing seat belts extends beyond our own lives. It sets an example for others, especially our young people who are observing our behaviors and learning from our actions. Simply click it and avoid the ticket.”
To help travelers spend more time at their destination than in traffic, the Virginia Department of Transportation will be suspending most highway work zones and lifting most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon on Friday, May 26 until noon on Tuesday, May 30.
Motorists may still encounter semi-permanent work zones that remain in place during this time. Check VDOT’s Weekly Lane Closures and Travel Advisories for the latest travel alerts in your area and around the state.
Additionally, VDOT offers several resources to help plan travel ahead of time. Its online travel trends map helps predict peak congestion.
Based on the historical data, heavy congestion is expected on Friday and Saturday between Fredericksburg and the D.C. line and on Monday between Richmond and Northern Virginia on Interstate 95 northbound.
On Interstate 95 southbound, congestion is expected between the D.C. line and Richmond on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday and Monday in Northern Virginia.
On Interstate 81 northbound, pockets of congestion may appear on Monday between Roanoke and Winchester.
In the Hampton Roads area, congestion is also likely, especially on Interstate 64 approaching the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel eastbound on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and going westbound on Friday and Monday.
VDOT’s free mobile 511 app offers information about construction, traffic, incidents and congestion as well as access to traffic cameras, weather, EV charging stations and more. Use 511’s “speak ahead” option to alert you to incidents on your route.
Other safety tips include:
If you plan to drink, have a designated driver.
Don’t drive distracted, and speak up if someone else is doing so.
Buckle up and ensure children and car seats are secured.
Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
Use signals for lane changes and turns.
Cars can heat dangerously fast on hot days: don’t leave children, elderly persons or pets in parked cars for any amount of time.
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