ARLINGTON, Va. – Many motorists will take to area roadways during the upcoming long weekend in search of that last summertime adventure. Increased travel means more vehicles on the roads and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows an increase in motor vehicle crashes as well. To help remind drivers and passengers of the importance of seatbelt use, the Arlington County Police Department and NHTSA are teaming up for Operation Crash Reduction. This effort is focused on Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia — a region that sees some of the nation’s highest numbers of traffic crash-induced fatalities.
According to NHTSA, from 2014 to 2018, this specific set of states had 882 fatal crashes from October 1-15. This is the highest number of fatal crashes for the first 15 days of any month during this same time 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.
Operation Crash Reduction runs from October 9 through October 12, with the goal of promoting seatbelt use to save lives and prevent injuries due to traffic crashes. During this awareness campaign, police will be enforcing applicable traffic laws with the goal of educating drivers and passengers of the dangers of traveling without a seatbelt.
As the weekend nears, ACPD is reminding all drivers of the laws around seat belt use. Virginia law requires everyone under age 18 to be properly secured in a safety belt or child safety seat, no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle, and the driver is responsible for making sure this happens. In addition, Virginia law requires everyone in the front seat of vehicles to be properly restrained, regardless of age, and those 18 and older can be ticketed.
Seat belts have been proven to be one of the most effective ways to save lives in vehicle crashes. That’s why the Arlington County Police Department is encouraging you to buckle up on every trip, every time.