Jeffrey Caldwell 804-786-2715
Mahlon “Lon” G. Anderson 202-481-6820

June 30, 2010

Spike in Vehicle Fires Highlights Seasonal Danger Posed by Hot Weather

RICHMOND – To ease traffic congestion through the July 4, holiday weekend, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will lift lane restrictions on interstates, primary routes and other major highways from noon Friday, July 2, until noon Tuesday, July 6. Work zones with permanent construction barriers will remain in place throughout the holiday weekend.

During the past several weeks of record-setting temperatures there have been numerous vehicle fires that have endangered lives and snarled traffic on Virginia’s highways. Along with other preparations for the holiday weekend, VDOT and AAA Mid-Atlantic urge drivers to make sure their vehicles are in good condition before hitting the road.

“With over 10 straight days of 90-plus degree temperatures in Virginia, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reporting that its emergency road side assistance services are up over 30 percent, as the heat wave has taken a huge toll on cars,” according to Mahlon G. “Lon” Anderson, a spokesman for the auto club.  And with over 890,000 Virginians being projected to hit the roads for travel over the July 4th holiday, preventative maintenance — making sure that your car is ready for the trip — is critical.       

Across the country, approximately 287,000 vehicle fires occur each year, resulting in 480 deaths, more than 1,500 injuries and $1.3 billion in property damage. Mechanical failures or breakdowns cause about half of those vehicle fires. Motorists can greatly reduce the chance of such a fire by having regular vehicle inspections, being alert to leaks or unusual sounds and getting immediate vehicle service if problems are suspected.

If a fire occurs:

  • Stop – If possible, pull to the side of the road and turn off the ignition. Pulling to the side makes it possible for everyone to get out of the vehicle safely. Turn off the ignition to shut off the electric current and stop the flow of gasoline. Put the vehicle in park or set the emergency brake; you don’t want the vehicle to move after you leave it. Keep the hood closed because more oxygen can make the fire larger.

  • Get out – Make sure everyone gets out of the vehicle. Then move at least 100 feet away. Keep traffic in mind, and keep everyone together. There is not only danger from the fire, but also from other vehicles moving in the area.

  • Call for help – Call 911 or the emergency number for your local fire department. Firefighters are specially trained to combat vehicle fires. Never return to the vehicle to attempt to fight the fire yourself. Most injuries happen when motorists try to extinguish the fire themselves. Vehicle fires can be tricky, even for firefighters.

Since the Fourth of July falls on a Sunday, VDOT and AAA Mid-Atlantic anticipate higher traffic volumes because of the three-day weekend with Monday, July 5, as a holiday. To avoid congestion and bottlenecks on major highways throughout Virginia, VDOT encourages travelers to take advantage of its tools and resources available on  

If you can’t go online, dial 511 from your home or mobile phone, after you pull off the road if you are driving. Nearly 86,000 people visited the 511Virginia website during May, and the 511 line received more than 156,000 calls during the same month.

Virginia is part of the multi-state E-ZPass electronic toll-collection network. E-ZPass customers can use their transponders at toll facilities in 13 states including Virginia.  For more information on E-ZPass Virginia, visit

Finally, VDOT wants everyone to arrive safely to their destination. Statistics show that drivers who follow several standard rules of the road have fewer crashes and reduce the risk of serious injury if a crash occurs. Therefore, VDOT and other state public-safety agencies urge drivers to take the Highway Safety Challenge, which includes:

  • Buckle up                                 
  • Obey speed limits
  • Avoid distractions
  • Share the road
  • Drive drug- and alcohol-free

For more information about safe driving tips and other rules of the road in Virginia, visit VDOT’s Web site at and click on  

The following work zones in VDOT’s districts will remain in place through the July 4, holiday weekend and may affect your travel plans:

Bristol District

Interstate 77 and Interstate 81 overlap (Wythe County): High traffic volumes could slow or stop vehicles through this eight-mile section.

Route 23 Crossover Project (Wise County): All traffic on Route 23 at J.W. Adams Combined School shifted to northbound lanes because of crossover construction. Concrete barriers separate single-lane traffic with a 14-foot width restriction. Speed limit is 45 mph.

Culpeper District

Route 651/Free State Road bridge over railroad (Albemarle County): Road closed between Route 1428 (Huntington Road) and the dead end so Norfolk Southern crews can repair bridge. Estimated completion, August 2010.

Route 621/Jacks Shop Road bridge (Madison County): Road closed for bridge replacement. Detour is Route 662 (Shelby Road) to Route 621. Expect delays and watch for signs and traffic controls on approach to work zone. Estimated completion, July 9.

Fredericksburg District

Route 17 (Gloucester County):  Motorists should be alert to permanent construction barriers on Route 17 just north of the George P. Coleman Bridge Toll Plaza at Gloucester Point.  Estimated completion date of the Route 17 widening project is October 2010.

Interstate 95/Route 207 Interchange (Caroline County): Motorists exiting the interstate at Exit 104 (Route. 207/Carmel Church) will be restricted to one lane in each direction on Rt. 207 near the interchange.  There are no lane closures on the interstate.  Estimated completion date for the I-95/Route 207/Route 652 improvement project is November 2011.

Hampton Roads District

Interstate 64 Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT): Motorists traveling to Virginia Beach should use the Interstate 664 Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (MMMBT) as an alternative to the HRBT. To Virginia Beach, take I-664 south to MMMBT. Then take exit 15A, the Portsmouth/Norfolk exit, to Interstate 264 east to Virginia Beach.

Travel to the Outer Banks, NC: Motorists going to the Outer Banks should use Interstate 664 and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. From I-664 south, take Interstate 64 west to exit 292, the Chesapeake Expressway/Interstate 464/Route 17 exit. Keep left to continue to the Chesapeake Expressway/Route 168 by taking exit 192B, the Nags Head/Great Bridge exit, south to the Outer Banks.

Interstate 64 HOV lanes: On Monday, July 5, HOV restrictions will be lifted on I-64. The reversible roadway will be open to all westbound traffic from 1 a.m. until 11 a.m. and then to all eastbound traffic from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m. HOV reversible lane directions may shift throughout the three-day weekend depending on road conditions and traffic volumes.

The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry summer schedule is in effect through Labor Day. The ferry schedule is at

Lynchburg District

Route 29 bridge over Route 659 (Amherst County): One lane traffic, 11-foot lane width, speed limit 55 mph. Signs, concrete barriers and other traffic-control devices in use. Project completion, Oct. 14.

Route 670 at Bear Garden Creek (Buckingham County): Road closed for bridge replacement.

Route 6 at Cove Creek (632-639) (Nelson County):  Bridge rehabilitation. Signs, signals and barriers in use. Traffic restricted to single nine-foot-wide lane. Project completion Oct. 21.

Route 56 (697-666) (Nelson County): Bridge rehabilitation. Traffic restricted to single 10-foot-wide lane. Signs, barriers and signals in use. Estimated completion, Nov. 12.

Route 56 (752-680) (Nelson County): Bridge rehabilitation. Signs and flaggers will assist motorists. Temporary lane closures. Estimated completion, Nov. 12.

Route 739 at Tye River (Nelson County): Bridge rehabilitation. Traffic restricted to single nine-foot-wide lane. Signs and flaggers in use. Project completion, July 12.

Route 92 over Staunton River (Charlotte/Halifax county line): Road closed indefinitely.  

Route 707 (Charlotte County): Road closed indefinitely.  

Route 151 at Route 635 (Nelson County): Temporary lane closures for turn-lane construction. Signs and flaggers in use. Estimated completion, Sept. 16.  

Northern Virginia District

Interstate 95/395 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes: 

HOV restrictions will be lifted on Monday, July 5 in observance of the federal holiday. Normal HOV-3 restrictions will be in place (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. northbound; 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. southbound) on Friday, July 2 and Tuesday, July 6.

The I-95/395 reversible lanes will be southbound:

  • Noon, Friday July 2 until 2 p.m. Saturday, July 3
  • 9 p.m. Sunday, July 4 until 1 a.m. Monday, July 5

The I-95/395 reversible lanes will be northbound:

  • 4 p.m. Saturday, July 3 until 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 4
  • 3 a.m. Monday, July 5 until 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 6

July 4 event traffic: To accommodate travelers attending Fourth of July events in Washington, D.C., VDOT will coordinate and adjust signal timings at approximately 116 signalized intersections along major arterial roads, including routes 1, 7, 29, 50, 123, 236 and 244, in Virginia. Signals will be timed to help move traffic into the District during the day and then south and west from the city between 9:30 p.m. and midnight.

Richmond District

Route 360 bridge over Route 460 in Burkeville (Nottoway County): Road reduced to one lane in both directions behind permanent barrier wall.

Salem District

Interstate 77 (Carroll County): Bridge work has closed left lane and left shoulder both directions at mile marker 13.7. Two lanes are open in each direction but shifted to travel in the right lane and on right shoulder. Speed limit 55 mph.  

Route 58 (Carroll County): Bypass construction has reduced Route 58 to one lane each direction just west of Hillsville. Speed limit 35 mph.

Staunton District

Interstate 64 (Alleghany County): Median barrier construction will close left lane between mile markers 19 and 21.5 in both directions.

Churchville Avenue (Route 250/Staunton – Augusta County): Eastbound lane of Churchville Avenue closed from North Augusta Street (Route 11) to Albemarle Avenue for road reconstruction. Westbound lane will remain open. North Central Avenue closed to through traffic for paving and installation of utilities and crosswalk. North Central Avenue open to local businesses from Pump Street to Churchville Avenue. No left turn allowed from Churchville Avenue to North Lewis Street. North Lewis Street open to northbound traffic only. Motorists should follow posted detour.



Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Oct. 17, 2012