State Police to step up traffic enforcement on I-66 over Super Bowl weekend

Westbound traffic I-66 by the Vienna Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Virginia State Police will be quick to call foul on any drivers behaving poorly on I-66 before, during and after the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers’ big game this Sunday (Feb. 11).

With many sports fans planning visits to their local bar or stocking up on snacks and drinks for at-home Super Bowl parties, state troopers from the Fairfax and Culpepper divisions will have an increased presence in the 76-mile-long I-66 corridor throughout the weekend.

Dubbed “Operation Diss-rupt,” the traffic enforcement and safety initiative will take place from Saturday to Monday (Feb. 10-12) and focus on distracted and impaired driving, speeding and seat belt use, the VSP announced yesterday (Thursday).

“The weekend of the Super Bowl is an excellent time to ‘tackle’ bad driving behaviors,” VSP Bureau of Field Operations Director Lt. Col. Matt Hanley said. “Additional state troopers will be on patrol along the entire I-66 corridor to enhance highway safety for all motorists. We ask Virginians to ‘DISS-rupt’ risky driving behaviors by focusing on the roads and by designating a sober driver, especially if your Super Bowl celebration includes alcohol.”

According to the VSP, its troopers charged 23 drivers with driving while intoxicated during last year’s Super Bowl Sunday.

Preliminary data shows that 839 people died in traffic crashes on Virginia roads last year, state police said. In Fairfax County, 15 people were killed in crashes involving alcohol in 2023, and there have already been 45 such crashes, including one fatality, recorded this year, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data.

After the county saw an uptick in traffic-related deaths in 2022, especially among pedestrians, the Fairfax County Police Department conducted a “Road Shark” campaign last spring and summer to address speeding, phone usage and other unsafe driving behaviors. The campaign resulted in almost 25,000 citations and warnings to drivers.

This weekend’s I-66 crackdown will the VSP’s second “Operation Diss-rupt” campaign after the agency similarly stepped up patrols of I-95 on Jan. 10-11.

“State Troopers cited 120 drivers for reckless driving, 117 drivers for speeding, 33 drivers for violating Virginia’s ‘Hands Free’ law, and 25 drivers and passengers for seatbelt violations (one improperly restrained child),” the VSP said in a press release. “There were no fatal crashes along the interstate during the enforcement period.”

Setting a goal of reducing crashes in general by 10% this calendar year, the VSP says it hopes to see no fatal crashes while the operation is in effect this weekend, advising drivers to follow basic traffic laws:

  • Ditch Distractions: Virginia has a “Hands-Free” law that prohibits a driver from holding a handheld personal communications device while driving. GPS and making phone calls are still legal, as long as the device is mounted and/or not in your hands.
  • Never Drive Impaired: Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal in Virginia. Even buzzed driving is drunk driving. Always designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a ride-hailing service.
  • Comply with Speed Limits: Posted speed limits on Virginia interstates never exceed 70 mph. So, neither should your speed. Speed-related crashes claimed 441 lives in 2022 in Virginia. Simply, drive to save lives.
  • Seat Belt Safety: Virginia law requires all front seat occupants of motor vehicles be restrained, and any passenger from birth to 18 years old be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat or seat belt, no matter their seating position.

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