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Stay safe heading into 2021

Everyone wants to say goodbye to 2020, but racing to get there may increase your chances of not reaching the finish line.

Throughout 2020, Virginia has seen a spike in fatal speed-related crashes according to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office. Year-to-date there have been more speed-related traffic deaths than in all of 2019. This year has been one of challenges and this holiday season will be like none in recent memory, but speeding, driving under the influence and not buckling up is no way to finish out 2020.

“Not only have speed-related traffic deaths increased this year, so have alcohol-related traffic deaths. Virginia is on pace to have more total fatal traffic crashes in 2020 than in 2019,” Colonel Gary T. Settle, superintendent of Virginia State Police, said. “And all of this while overall traffic crashes in Virginia this year are down significantly. This means each crash has been deadlier – deadlier because of speed, alcohol, distractions and individuals not wearing seatbelts.”

Virginia State Police is urging every motorist on the road this holiday season to be responsible, obey the traffic laws, ditch distractions and wear a seatbelt. Whether heading to the grocery store, the post office or delivering gifts to family and friends, choose to do it safely and do it responsibly.

Every year during the holidays, there is an increase in drunk-driving related fatalities and crashes across the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in December 2018, there were 839 lives lost in drunk-driving crashes nationwide. Of the 839 deaths, 285 occurred during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.

“Remember, drinking and driving is never an option,” Settle said.

Drivers and passengers have many alternatives to arrive home safely. If you plan to attend a party or celebrate with a small group of friends during the holidays, please remember:

Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a friend, call family, call a cab or use public transportation.

If you know someone has been drinking, do not let them drive. Arrange another safe way home.

If you believe you see an impaired driver on the road, call police. Remain alert and don’t hesitate to dial #77 to notify your nearest Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Center. Your actions could save someone’s life.

In addition to complying with traffic laws, drivers are reminded that effective January 1, it will be illegal to hold a handheld personal communications device while driving a moving motor vehicle on Virginia highways.

Get into the habit of putting down your cell phone now, before the state-wide law goes into effect. For more information on the new law, visit phonedown.org.