Virginia State Police Safe Travel Reminders

The summer travel season is officially underway, and projections are that it will be busier this year as travelers take advantage of lower fuel prices. Virginia State Trooper John Carpenter offers some reminders on how to stay safe and legal while behind the wheel.

“We chatted last year about the CARE holidays that were coming up for the travel weekends. The CARE holidays is the Combined Accident Reduction Effort – it’s done every major holiday when people are out travelling. It starts in the spring, we just started it a couple weeks ago with the Memorial day Weekend. You’re going to see troopers out, it’s going to be local agencies as well, it’s not just a state thing. So you’re going to see us out – we’re going to be out in full force – it’s visibility and aggressive traffic enforcement to keep people mindful. The bar of discretion is going to pretty much be lowered. Normally, we have three decisions to make – we can warn, summons and arrest – it’s dictated by the Code of Virginia. But in those times when people are out and about, the aggressive enforcement, we have to lower that bar. I got the big four – I like speed, equipment, registrations and inspections. Everything else comes out of those – my personal way of doing it.”

He noted some statistics from the Memorial Day Weekend which is the traditional start of the travel period, as well as the importance of seatbelts.

“847 crashes were investigated over a four day period. We wrote over 11,000 tickets, speeding violations – talking about being aggressive, over 11,000 speeding violations, 2,600 reckless driving, 900 seatbelt violations, 272 child restraint citations. Now, the kid doesn’t have a choice. The parent does, or the adult. I mean, they don’t have that free right choice to say “I’m not gonna wear my belt because I’m being bullheaded – that baby doesn’t have a choice. Buckle the babies up.

“We had the seatbelt survey recently, and I had a pre-survey and a post-survey. If people saw me really staring at them when they were coming by, I was trying to see if you had your seatbelt on, because I was keeping notes. Out of 100 people I checked, 34 out of 100 were belted. Contrary to what people believe, in regards to that law, it’s still a law, it’s a Click It or Ticket. They want you to wear it. Is it a secondary? Yes, I would be lying if I said no.

This past holiday weekend, we only had eight fatalities in the state, whereas last year we had 14. So it’s encouraging the number dropped. But my heart still goes out to those people and families who lost somebody. Three out of those eight weren’t wearing a seatbelt – so just wear your seatbelts.

Thank you for listening, and just remember, our job is not to be the bad guy, or the bad girls – we’re just out here to do a job and make sure you guys are safe.”

Stay tuned for part two of our conversation, where Trooper Carpenter discusses ways to keep up with new laws and the activities of the State Police.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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