HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Virginia’s DMV commissioner knows firsthand how seat belts can prevent death in some of the worst car crashes.
Gerald Lackey shared his personal story with reporters at the state’s Click it or Ticket campaign kickoff in Glen Allen on Monday.
“When I was 17, a seat belt saved my life,” Commissioner Lackey said. "I was an inexperienced driver, and a cat ran in the road. I pull off, swerve a little bit, get in the gravel on the side of the road, overcorrected my car, and flipped it.”
Lackey’s car slid into a ravine and hit a tree.
He was semiconscious and hanging upside down by his seat belt when first responders arrived.
“Virginia’s first responders see time and time again the lifesaving power of a seat belt,” John Saunders, DMV’s highway safety officer director, said.
Now through June 4, Saunders said drivers can expect additional police patrols for the start of the Memorial Day weekend in Central Virginia.
“Three hundred seventy-five people lost lives their lives on the roadways in Virginia because they weren’t wearing a seat belt. Almost 12,000 nationally. That’s unacceptable,” Lackey said.
Virginia State Police said Memorial Day 2022 saw eight fatalities on state roads and 15 deaths the year before that.
Last year, five of those eight victims did not buckle up.
AAA Mid Atlantic hosted the press conference at its West Broad Street location alongside Virginia State Police, Henrico County Police, RAA, New Kent Sheriff’s Office, and the DMV.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean predicted nearly 1.2 million Virginians will travel over the long Memorial Day weekend.
That would account for more than 6% higher than last year, but about 2% shy of the 2019 figures.
Dean also said that this will be the fourth busiest Memorial Day in Virginia since AAA started tracking in 2000 behind 2019, 2018, and 2005.
More than 1 million Virginians will travel by car, which is up nearly 6% from last year.
Henrico Chief of Police Eric English shared four easy-to-follow tips to stay safe on the roads.
“Number one: buckle up. Secondly, slow down. Third, do not drive while impaired. Fourth, don’t be distracted,” he said.
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