More than 80 local police agencies, as well as the Virginia State Police, will be on heightened alert over the Columbus Day weekend when, due to the closure of many schools and businesses on Monday, families tend to travel. Law enforcement agencies in neighboring states are increasing patrols as well.
Throughout 2017 in our region, which includes Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, Columbus Day marked the second-highest total of fatal crashes among all holidays, trailing only Independence Day.
In Virginia, Columbus Day weekend was the second deadliest compared to the other holidays on which traffic fatalities are recorded from Friday through Monday: 13 people died and 734 were injured during Columbus Day weekend in 2018, compared to six traffic fatalities over New Year’s Eve weekend, 11 deaths across Memorial Day weekend, and 14 on Labor Day weekend, the only other four-day holiday with more traffic deaths.
Since Columbus Day weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, the chances of being involved in a vehicle crash are greatly increased. So, it is critical to practice safe driving habits. Also, because the Commonwealth is seeing an unbuckled fatality rate of 52 percent, the Department of Motor Vehicles is joining law enforcement in pushing harder than ever for everyone to wear a seat belt, avoid distractions, obey speed limits and drive sober.
DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, said the best defense against distracted and drunk drivers this Columbus Day weekend and every day is wearing a seat belt. “Buckling up is the single most effective prevention action you can take, and it’s so simple,” Holcomb said. “With increased traffic and more law enforcement on the roads this weekend, we encourage Virginians to drive carefully so they arrive at their destinations safely.”