WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - There will be extra eyes on the road this holiday season from the highways to neighborhoods to make sure everyone has a safe holiday.
Law enforcement is out in full force monitoring the highways to look for people who are speeding and driving reckless. "You do have more speeders and more traffic. Levels go up through the holidays," says Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Sgt. Jason Shepherd.
Sgt. Shepherd tells us during the holidays everyone is in a hurry to get to the same place, and one problem is distracted drivers.
State Farm's latest distracted driving survey says the percentage of drivers who access the internet on their phone while driving has nearly doubled during the last five years, going up more than 10 percent. The survey also saw in increase in the percentage of drivers who say they use their smartphone to read email and read social media networks. "Glancing at a phone, or trying to text, or trying to dial a number, you've got to pay attention. One second is all it takes to run off a shoulder, to rear-end [another car], or to get involved in a bad crash," adds Shepherd.
Shepherd tells us another problem they see is people driving intoxicated during the holidays; that's why they are having extra checkpoints throughout the county. "It's usually in the nighttime hours, usually 6 p.m. to 2 or 3 a.m.," says Shepherd.
For some people, the holiday season means leaving home to visit family. That gives criminals an opportunity to break in and steal more than a family's holiday spirit. "We're doing more checks through neighborhoods and subdivisions. A lot of people seem to travel more during the holiday season, so they're leaving their homes unattended," adds Shepherd.
Shepherd tells us just having police making rounds in neighborhoods will make criminals think twice about breaking into homes and causing a Christmas nightmare.
That same presence at shopping centers like the Target store on Highlands Center Boulevard could also keep people safe. "[Police] pulling through a parking lot, it brings attention to everybody that sees it. Just being seen, you've done a whole lot of your job," says Shepherd.
Shepherd says they want to make sure everyone enjoys the holidays, but they also want to make sure everyone is safe.
Shepherd wants to remind everyone to be extra careful on the roads in case the weather gets bad. He says to slow down, and leave extra room between you and the car in front of you.