- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nine people died on Virginia highways over the Memorial Day weekend, three fewer victims than last year despite a record-high number of travelers, state police said.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty acknowledged the lower number of fatalities, but said “the loss of life is still disturbing.”

Seven drivers and two passengers died between 12:01 a.m. Friday and midnight Monday. Two crashes occurred in Goochland County and another two happened in Halifax County. The fatal wrecks also occurred in Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Bedford, and Washington counties.

Police said that in eight of the crashes, the victims were not wearing seatbelts, a number that Col. Flaherty called “troubling.”

“As the summer driving season begins, we must emphasize to all drivers and passengers to take those few seconds to buckle up before getting behind the wheel or riding with someone,” Col. Flaherty said. “Those few seconds could save your life.”

According to the Virginia State Police, nearly 11,800 drivers were ticketed for speeding, while another 3,000 were given citations for reckless driving. Close to 140 drivers were arrested for impaired driving.

Maryland State Police reported only one fatality, but the location was unknown. More than 6,600 citations were issued by officers, including 123 drunk driving arrests.

Projections from AAA Mid-Atlantic estimated that 875,200 D.C. -area residents would be traveling over the holiday, 90 percent of them by car.