Seven people died in traffic crashes and 79 were arrested by state troopers for drunken driving over a three-day period including the July 4 holiday, police said.

The six fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Highland, Loudoun, Lunenburg, Nelson, Pittsylvania and Spotsylvania. The Spotsylvania crash on July 5 resulted in two deaths. Altogether, the crashes claimed the lives of four drivers and three passengers. Four were not wearing seat belts, state police said in a release.

"Unfortunately, thousands of drunk, speeding and reckless drivers kept Virginia State Police busy and put countless lives at risk during the 2019 July 4th holiday weekend across the Commonwealth," spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in the release.

The holiday statistical counting period that began at 12:01 a.m. July 3, 2019 and concluded at midnight July 5, 2019. Police did not count Saturday or Sunday as part of the holiday period.

“Recognizing the potential for more holiday travelers and festivities with July 4th falling on a Thursday this year, we made certain to have every available trooper working Virginia’s highways during the holiday weekend,” Col. Gary T. Settle, the Virginia State Police superintendent, said in a statement. “Even though state police did its part to enhance its response times and traffic safety enforcement efforts, too many motorists still put their lives and others at risk during the holiday weekend by failing to drive smart, safe or sober.”

During the department's Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, or C.A.R.E, state troopers arrested 79 drunk drivers, cited 5,389 speeders and 1,752 reckless drivers. They also issued 723 citations for failing to fasten seat belts.

In addition, state police responded to 548 traffic crashes statewide and assisted 1,791 disabled and/or stranded motorists. Operation C.A.R.E. is state-sponsored national program intended to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries due to impaired driving, speed and failure to wear a seat belt.

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