Vt. police say motorists heeding safety push
By WILSON RING
THE Associated Press | July 13,2012
A sign warns motorists on Interstate 89 on Friday, July 6, 2012 in Bolton, Vt. Highway safety officials say police are going to strictly enforce the speed limits for the next 60 days during a statewide, coordinated crackdown on speeders. The announcement was in response to 42 accident fatalities since January-- twice the number of deaths at this time last year.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
MONTPELIER — Motorists across Vermont have been slowing down and following traffic laws since the state launched a summer traffic enforcement program designed to counter a rash of fatalities in the first half of the year, said the state trooper overseeing the program created after a rash of fatalities in the first half of the year.
No one has died on the state’s roads since the push began, but it’s too early to credit the program, said Lt. John Flannigan, the state police traffic safety commander who is overseeing the safety push.
“It certainly seems like it’s having an effect, but we’re not measuring based on tickets or warnings but reducing crashes and saving lives,” Flannigan said. “If we can save one or two lives, it’s worth it.”
There are four traffic safety teams made up of state troopers and officers from other state, county and local police agencies, working in different parts of the state, stopping speeders and letting motorists know they are on the road. There are also message boards set up along the interstate offering people safety tips.
“They’re going to be out different days of the week now through the end of the summer, Labor Day weekend,” Flannigan said.
“I’ve heard a number of comments from people in the public that they’re heeding the warnings and they’re slowing down,” he said.
Last week the state police announced Operation Summer HEAT. Officers will be visible across the state enforcing speed limits and other traffic laws. The operation was designed in response to the number of fatalities in the first half of the year.
Through July 1, there were 42 traffic fatalities in 37 crashes. That’s well above last year’s record low of 54 and on pace to exceed the three-year average of 72 fatalities.
The fatalities have been scattered across the state, but there are three themes in those crashes, Flannigan said: motorists not wearing seat belts, drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol, and speeding and aggressive driving.