Distracted driver (copy)

As the holiday travel season begins, Virginia government agencies are uniting to urge drivers to avoid distracted driving.

A new traffic safety campaign aimed to heighten awareness of the deadly dangers of using a cellphone while driving, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated,” was initiated by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office and AAA Mid-Atlantic with support by the Virginia State Police, a news release stated.

“The choices you make as a vehicle driver impact not only you and your passengers, but everyone else you happen to be sharing the road with at that given moment,” said VSP Superintendent Col. Gary T. Settle in the release. “Avoid distractions, ensure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up, comply with speed limits and never drive drunk. If we drive like every car is filled with our friends and family, we can make sure there are no empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table this year.”

VSP will also help prevent traffic deaths and injuries over the Thanksgiving holiday by participating in a program called Operation CARE, for Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort.

Police will be increasing its visibility and traffic enforcement work over the holiday weekend, Nov. 27 through Dec. 1.

Last year during this period troopers cited 599 individuals who were not wearing seatbelts, issued 199 citations for child safety seat violations, ticketed 7,629 speeders and 2,192 reckless drivers. A total of 102 drunken drivers were arrested by state troopers during the Thanksgiving weekend in 2018.

There were 12 traffic fatalities during the five-day Thanksgiving counting period, and 14 fatalities during the same period in 2017.

When drivers approach an emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road, drivers must “Move Over,” according to the law by that name, according to the news release. If unable to move over, drivers are required to pass the emergency vehicle with caution.

VDOT opens lanes for holidayThe Virginia Department of Transportation will be lifting lane closures to help traffic move more freely during times when high traffic volume is expected over the holiday.

Most highway work zones will be suspended and most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon Wednesday, Nov. 27 until noon Monday, Dec. 2.

VDOT’s online, interactive travel-trends map shows peak congestion periods on Virginia interstates, reflecting data collected from the three previous years during the same period. Though unable to exactly predict congestion this year, it does reflect when roads have been busiest in the past.

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