Press Release: February 15th, 2017
Takata Airbag Recall
There have been 11 confirmed U.S. fatalities tied to the rupture of Takata air bag inflators. The risk is grave. Visit SaferCar.gov to check your VIN to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive. Thare nearly 70 million vehicles on the road with Takata air bag inflators. Check your VIN now to make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. www.nhtsa.gov. Perform regular safety checks around the house, including checking your vehicle’s VIN for recalls. Find out more at SaferCar.gov.
Press Release: January 25th, 2018
Drugged Driving Summit with GHSA Announcement
Press Release: October 22nd, 2018
The Relationship Between Visual Abilities and Driving Habits Among Older Drivers: "A LongROAD Study."
Press Release: September 25th, 2018
Vehicle Owners’ Experiences with and Reactions to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Press Release: November 8th, 2018
Lyft and States Partner to Encourage Responsible Road Use
Press Release: October 18th, 2018
GHSA Releases Guide for States as New Research Raises Concerns about Marijuana Legalization’s Impact on Traffic Safety
Press Release: October 3rd, 2018
Though Traffic Fatalities Remain High, Dip Suggests Progress on the Road to Zero
Press Release: September 25th, 2018
GHSA Supports NTSB’s Call for Comprehensive, Localized Solutions to Prevent Pedestrian Fatalities
Press Release: August 15th, 2018
Don’t Overlook Humans’ Role in Autonomous Vehicle Safety
Press Release: June 12th, 2018
GHSA and Responsibility.org Provide Funding for Law Enforcement to Address Drug-Impaired Driving
Press Release: May 31st, 2018
Marijuana, Opioids Most Common Drugs Found in Fatally-Injured Drivers
Press Release: May 23rd, 2018
Uber and GHSA Team Up to Promote Seat Belt Use at Start of Summer Travel Season
Press Release: May 8th, 2018
Reducing Speed and Alcohol Impairment Key to Preventing Pedestrian Deaths
Press Release: May 2nd, 2018
New Data Finds Motorcyclist Fatalities Down 5.6% in 2017
Press Release: March 29, 2018
Ignition Interlock Laws Critical to Eliminate Drunk Driving
Press Release: February 28, 2018
No National Progress in Reducing Pedestrian Fatalities
Press Release: February 6, 2018
U.S. Governors' Focus on Traffic Safety Praised
Press Release: December 14, 2017
GHSA Announces New Research Partnership with Transportation Research Board
Press Release: September 19th, 2017
Six Honored With National Highway Safety Awards
Press Release: August 24th, 2017
New Report Detailing Bicyclist Fatalities Prompts 30 Life-Saving Action Steps for States
Press Release: August 2nd, 2017
States Urged to Utilize Updated Traffic Crash Guideline for Better Data Collection and Reporting
Press Release: July 26th, 2017
GHSA Applauds NTSB for Raising Profile of Speeding as Highway Safety Risk
Press Release: June 26th, 2017
Report Scans Marijuana Legalization's Impacts on Impaired Driving Systems
Press Release: June 22nd, 2017
States Should Consider the Risk of Marijuana-Impaired Driving as New Research Links Legalization to Crash Increase
Press Release: May 19th, 2017
GHSA and The National Road Safety Foundation Provide $60,000 to Support State Drowsy Driving Prevention Efforts
Press Release: April 27, 2017
New Report Calls States to Take Action on Drug-Impaired Driving
Press Release: April 12, 2017
New Research Indicates Anti-Drunk Driving Efforts Should Include Bicyclists and Pedestrians
Press Release: March 30, 2017
Pedestrian Fatalities Projected to Surge 11% in 2016
Press Release: February 15, 2017
Increase in Highway Deaths Requires Action
Vermont Agency of Transportation - Office of Highway Safety
Press Release: June 19th, 2018
Seat Belt Usage Increasing in Vermont - Survey shows highest rate of reported usage
Contact: Bruce Nyquist, Director of Highway Safety
August 13, 2018 / Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) reports that Vermont’s 2018 seat belt usage rate was surveyed to be 89.8 percent – the highest measured rate to date in the state.
Seat belt use is required by law. Unbelted motorists are statistically over represented in motor vehicle fatalities. To date in 2018 in Vermont, over 60 percent of motor vehicle crashes resulting in a fatality involved motorists that were unbelted when a seat belt was available.
“We are encouraged by the increase in seat belt usage throughout Vermont,” said Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn. “The survey results show that seatbelt usage is headed in the right direction and that’s helping to keep Vermonters safer. I strongly recommend all Vermonters and all those visiting our state drive safe, enjoy all we have to offer, and buckle-up.”
The 2018 results represent an increase in seat belt usage rates of five percentage points over 2017 results, which was 84 percent. Nationally, the seat belt usage rate in 2017 was 89.7 percent. The previous peak seat belt usage rate measured was 86 percent in 2008. This year’s survey results give Vermont one of the highest seat belt usage rates in New England.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program, in collaboration with VTrans, the Vermont Department of Public Safety, the Vermont Department of the Health, and the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance, work together to educate motorists about the safety advantages of wearing seat belts. VTrans seeks to provide the safest transportation system possible, however motorists can increase their personal safety by staying alert, driving cautiously and wearing seat belts whenever they are in a motor vehicle.
Roadside seat belt usage observations were conducted from June 1st through June 14th at 89 locations throughout Vermont. The sites were selected in a manner prescribed and approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA requires every state to conduct annual seat belt usage rate surveys.
Annual seat belt survey reports can be found at ghsp.vermont.gov/content/reports-and-data.
Press Release: June 19th, 2018VTDIGGER
Enforcement questions loom in Vermont as pot legalization nears
WATERBURY – Vermont State Police used the terms “case-by-case basis” and “developing case law” in response to several enforcement scenarios that may come to light as a new law goes into effect in two weeks legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
A pair of state police commanders met with reporters Tuesday at the Department of Public Safety’s headquarters in Waterbury to talk about the impact of the law on the operations of the force, and a training document on the topic that’s been put together for troopers.
“The training bulletin for the Vermont State Police was developed to assist our troopers in understanding this new law,” said Capt. James Whitcomb, VSP’s staff operations commander. “We thought it was important to alert our troopers to the new changes in marijuana policies.”
That training bulletin will continuously be updated as court cases around the new marijuana policy play out, he added.
RIGHT- Vermont State Police Lt. John Flannigan, left, and Capt. James Whitcomb explain operational changes under the state’s new marijuana law. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger
“We’re always going to learn and take new case law and apply that to assist our troopers,” Whitcomb said.
Starting July 1, the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will be legal in Vermont for a person 21 or older. Also, a person 21 or older will be able to have two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature ones.
The 10-page training bulletin provided to troopers comes with some words of caution.
“The summary is not exhaustive and your decision in each circumstance may change depending on the facts,” an introduction on the first page states. “Thus, you must read the text of each of the relevant statutes and confer with your local prosecutor.”
So what if a trooper pulls over a vehicle and can see a marijuana joint in a cup holder?
“I hesitate to answer those specific questions because each of these incidents are dynamic,” Whitcomb said. “There’s a lot that goes into each of these incidents where we observe marijuana in a vehicle.”
How about a dispute involving a landlord who told a tenant not to grow any marijuana in a rental unit, but the tenant is growing marijuana there anywhere? The law does allow a landlord to prohibit the cultivation of marijuana in a rental unit pursuant to a lease agreement.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Whitcomb said, adding it’s a matter where troopers would need to be working closely with prosecutors in each of the counties where such instances arise.
The training bulletin does state, “Unless the cultivation or possession is otherwise prohibited by law, treat as a civil landlord/tenant issue.”
The law also calls for an “enclosure that is screened from public view” when it comes to the cultivation of marijuana plants. Just what that enclosure and screening means is still not entirely clear.
“I don’t recall seeing that it needed to be under lock key,” Whitcomb said. “I think this is a great example of where this law is going to be developed over time through case law.”
And how would state police ensure that edibles a person possesses contains less than an ounce of marijuana?
“The bulletin, like the law, doesn’t address all potential incidents, including edibles,” Whitcomb said. “These are incidents that troopers are going to encounter, we realize that … This is an area, again, where the trooper will be and have been directed to collaborate with our partners, the state’s attorneys.”
One thing that won’t change, according to both Whitcomb and Lt. John Flannigan, commander of the Vermont State Police’s safety programs, is that it still remains illegal to drive stoned.
“Driving impaired is illegal, nothing changes there,” Whitcomb said.
“It still remains impaired to the slightest degree,” Flannigan added of the law.
Asked if he expected to see the number of stoned drivers increase after July 1 with the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, Flannigan replied, “We have to see what comes, and we have to be prepared to make changes.”
Troopers will continue to use the same process that is used now to investigate suspected stoned drivers, Flannigan said.
Indicators of impairment will be taken into account, including an officer’s observation of a motorist’s driving to that person’s performance on a field sobriety test. A Drug Recognition Expert, or DREs, would also be called in to assist if impairment due to drugs is suspected, Flannigan said.
And a warrant could also be sought to obtain a blood test of a driver, though the presence of marijuana alone would not be the only factor considered when deciding whether to arrest a motorist for driving impaired, he said.
Flannigan called the detection of marijuana in blood one more piece of evidence to add to a case to help prove in court that a driver was impaired behind the wheel.
“Just by itself, having a test that’s positive, without any other kind of evidence, isn’t a strong case,” Flannigan said.
In passing the law, the Legislature did not establish a “per se” limit of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, a person can have in their system before being considered impaired.
Also, this legislative session, a bill to permit saliva testing as another tool for officers to determine whether a motorist is impaired failed to gain enough support to pass.
Flannigan said Tuesday that across Vermont there are about 50 Drug Recognition Experts, including members of the Vermont State Police and other law enforcement agencies. There are plans in place to boost that number by 10 with a new class starting training later this summer.
“We want to make sure those experts are available to our law enforcement partners around the state,” he said.
Flannigan did say that a trooper seeing a joint in the ashtray of a pulled-over vehicle could still prompt questions, even though possessing it for someone 21 or older would be legal.
“It’s going to be how that person presents as far as impairment goes,” Flannigan said of the stopped motorist.
There are other changes coming as the law takes effect.
Police canines are no longer being trained to hit on marijuana, Whitcomb said. And those already training to do that, he added, are being put to use on patrol with their handlers.
“They are going to be utilized in different roles,” he said of those marijuana-sniffing canines.
Press Release: May 21st, 2018
Will Vt. roads become more dangerous with legal pot?
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A new national report finds that fatal drug-related crashes are outnumbering deadly accidents involving alcohol.
According to a new report from the Governor's Highway Safety Association, In 2016 alcohol was involved in 38-percent of driver deaths while 44-percent of drivers killed tested positive for drugs. That's a jump from just 28-percent back in 2006. More than half of the drivers had marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two in their system.
Vermont statistics reflect the same trend. We asked state police if they expect Vermont's roads to become more dangerous on July 1st, when recreational pot becomes legal.
"I don't know what to expect, but if there is any indication of what we have seen in other states that have legalized -- they have seen some increases," said Vermont State Police Lt. John Flanngian.
Lt. Flannigan says the State Police will continue to push for a saliva test for suspected drugged drivers. He says that test can't determine if someone is high, but it can be used to support an officer's observation of impairment.
Press Release: May 21st, 2018
Buckle up: It could cost you this summer on Vermont and New York roadways
CROWN POINT, NY. - Whether you are driving in Vermont or New York, police are urging motorists to buckle up.
Law enforcement agencies from the two states met on the Champlain Bridge that connects Addison, Vermont to Crown Point, New York.
"This year from May 21 to June 3, state, local and county law enforcement across the country will be cracking down on people that choose not to wear their seat belt," said Paul White. White is the law enforcement liaison for the Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program.
Vermont and New York have been participating in the 'Click It or Ticket' campaign for 17 years. The campaign is aimed to increase the number of motorist wearing seat belts.
"Buckle Up New York campaign is one of the most successful traffic safety campaigns in history. Hundreds of lives have been saved, and thousands of injuries prevented," said Major John Tibbitts of the New York State Police, Troop B.
In New York, 90% of drivers wear a seat belt. While in Vermont, that percentage is lower at 85%.
"Among young adults, ages 18 to 34 killed in crashes in 2016, more than half (57%) were completely unrestrained. One of the highest percentages for all age groups," said Christopher Herrick. Herrick is the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Public Safety.
"You will see a big push of extra enforcement, cracking down on speeding, aggressive driving, and distracted driving," said Paul White.
In both states, the law requires you to wear a seat belt. Though there are differences when it comes to being pulled over for not complying.
"In New York, it's a primary enforcement tool. Just for not having a seat belt on, the trooper can pull you over," said Major Tibbitts.
In Vermont, things are different. Not wearing a seat belt is a secondary offense. Meaning, a police officer can not pull you over solely on that infringement.
"However, if you are stopped for another violation, the seatbelt is an additional $25. On top of the fine for the underlying violation," said Paul White.
In neighboring New Hampshire, law enforcement there will work closely with neighboring Maine and Massachusetts.
Press Release: April 27th, 2018
Contact: GHSP Deputy Chief - Allison Laflamme -(802) 498-8079
For Immediate Release 04/27/2018
On behalf of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) in the Office of Highway Safety at the Vermont Agency of Transportation, we are pleased to release this ‘Hopes and Dreams’ School Bus Safety Public Service Announcement. We would like to thank the marketing firm HMC for the production of this public service announcement. We would also like to thank the student actors and their parents from Barre, Northfield, Johnson and Stowe. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the Colchester Police Department/Chittenden SHARP for traffic control and support during filming and the school bus company Mountain Transit for donating the bus for filming.
The GHSP is federally funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The GHSP will be purchasing radio, television and social media spots statewide.
You can view this PSA by clicking on the picture:
Community Justice Network of Vermont (CJNVT)
Press Release: April 18th, 2018
Safe Driver Impact Panel Speakers Awarded
At the Annual Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services award ceremony, Chittenden County Safe Driver victim impact panelists Donna Zabrosky, Linda Crosby, and Liz Miller were presented with this year’s Survivor Activist Award. The Survivor/Activist Award is for a victim of crime who has taken his or her own personal experience and translated it into action or advocacy on behalf of other victims of crime.
Karen Dolan, facilitator for Safe Driver classes in Chittenden County and coordinator for northern Vermont, nominated the panel speakers for the award and then presented the award to them at the ceremony with these words:
- Each year, their contributions to Chittenden County’s Safe Driving Program impact hundreds of Vermonters in the classes and motivate participants to keep our roads safer.
- Safe Driving is a statewide program offered through a partnership between the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, Community Justice Network of Vermont, and local Community Justice Centers.
- The program serves as an education program for Vermonters charged or convicted of unsafe driving offenses such as DUI, texting while driving, excessive speeding, or reckless endangerment. In Chittenden County, we offer the program 1-2 times a month with 35 people registered for each two-day session.
- The program incorporates a number of learning exercises, but as many of us know activities, homework and reflection only do so much to create motivation to change. Thankfully, our program has the support of Donna, Linda, and Liz and together they offer what is often referred to by participants as the most meaningful and motivating piece of the program – their stories.
Month after month, Liz, Linda and Donna bring courage and strength to the program by sharing their stories of loss and grief. They provide powerful faces to the realities of unsafe driving decisions. Their words humanize the ripple effects that we can create when we drive. Their voices remind us that we are not alone on the road – there are neighbors, families, friends, and loved ones on the road that have the right to get home safely.
And the efforts of Donna, Linda, and Liz create additional ripple effects:
- Donna and Linda have each been speaking for over 13 years. This means thousands of Vermonters have received the gift of their stories.
- Their dedication inspires others to share their story and that is one of the reasons Liz has now joined the team. When one person shares, it creates space for others to find their voice.
- They have shared insight to other Safe Driving sites for recruiting speakers, mentoring new speakers, and ideas for supporting speakers.
- And their efforts continue past Safe Driving with many presentations to schools during prom season and Vermont’s Annual Red Ribbon Tree ceremony honoring those lost by impaired drivers.
Thank you Donna, Linda and Liz!
Press Release: March 15th, 2018
Video contest aims to change distracted driving habits among high school students
Contact Jacqueline "Jacqui" LeBlanc, VTrans Public Outreach Manager.
Press Release: December 5th, 2017
Vermont officials urge investing in winter tires
Officials reminding drivers to slow down in winter weather
COLCHESTER, Vt. — "It's a good idea to change the tires off before it snows," said Tom Eustace with Partner Tire & Service in Colchester.
It's a busy time of year at the shop.
"We've been very busy especially with the temperature dropping down," he said.
The drop in temperature can only mean one thing.
"For you Game of Thrones fans out there: Winter is coming," said Vermont's Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson.
The time of year is known for making driving more difficult.
That's why public safety officials are encouraging drivers to do everything they can to prepare.
That starts with slowing down.
"Just because the speed limit is 50 (mph) doesn't mean you need to do 50. Driving too fast for road conditions is not only dangerous to you and to others on the road, it's against the law," Anderson said.
Road safety is the top priority for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, or VTrans, which has close to 300 plows prepared to maintain more than 6,000 miles of the state's highways.
"The men and women behind the wheel are working to keep Vermonters safe, so please give them room to do their job and remember, don't crowd the plow," said Gov. Phil Scott.
Scott is also encouraging Vermonters to invest in winter tires.
"During the winter, having good, aggressive tires on your vehicle will make all the difference in the world," he said.
He recommends snow tires for almost every vehicle.
"You can feel it here," he said, pointing to a snow tire at the shop. "It is a softer rubber compound, which handles better in the snow."
Winter tires are an investment the state recommends making with the goal of keeping you safe on the road.
Shelburne Police Department
Press Release / Press Event: November 13th, 2017
See IT, Click IT, Commit to IT
Contact Lt. Allen Fortin
See IT, Click IT, Commit to IT.
Next Wednesday, November 22nd, is the start of one of busiest Holiday weekends of the year. We do not want your Thanksgiving weekend to end in tragedy. The serious injury and fatal crash rate for 2017 already exceeds that of several years in the past.
The American Automobile Association, (AAA), projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday November 22nd through Sunday the 26th.
On Tuesday November 21, 2017 at 09:00 A.M. Vermont law enforcement officers and our safety partners will be hosting a Press Conference at the T.A.M. Waste Management Company located 639 North Road, in Shaftsbury, Vermont. T.A.M. and other corporate partners in Bennington County want to get the message out to all motorists and passengers to Buckle Up before and during your travels.
This is our fourth roll out of the event known as “See IT, Click IT, Commit to IT”. The Vermont Truck and Bus Association, along with the Bellavance Trucking Company in Barre Vermont were the first to make the commitment to bring this message to motorists, not only in Vermont, but nationwide by attaching Click It or Ticket signs on the rear of all their vehicles. We have done press events in four different areas throughout Vermont hoping to spread this message. It is our hope that you will not be able to travel the highways without seeing this sign on the back of every Big Rig and delivery vehicle as a reminder to use your safety belts.
The T.A.M. Waste Management Company, our Bennington County transportation partners, along with AAA of Northern New England will be joining All Vermont Law Enforcement agencies including the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, and our Federal Partners are working to get the message out to BUCKLE UP.
All Vermont Law Enforcement will be enforcing Aggressive Driving, Speeding, Distracted Driving and Impaired Operation laws during this period. These behaviors are the leading causes of serious injury and fatal crashes. Wearing a safety belt is the law in Vermont. Safety belts are the key to your survival in a crash! You can,
See It, Click It, and Commit to It too!
Press Release: November 16, 2017
Vermont Highway Safety Alliance
Contact: Glen Button, Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802- 370-1318
Technology to play key role in future highway safety efforts
November 13, 2017 / Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (Alliance), a public/private partnership of like-minded individuals and organizations who are working toward making Vermont’s highways safer, hosted its 5th annual conference last week in Burlington.
Governor Phil Scott joined attendees for the presentation of the 2017 Life Safer Awards, which were presented by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program to recognize outstanding efforts in highway safety activities. Awards included:
The Lifesaver of the Year Award: James Lockridge, Youth Safety Council of Vermont
The Fletcher Brush Award: Lt. John Flannigan, Vermont State Police
The Sgt. Michael Johnson Award: Lt. Kevin Geno, Rutland County Sheriff’s Department
Engineering Award: Josiah Raiche, Matt Lofgren, and Rick Scott, Agency of Digital Services/VTrans
The Drug Recognition Expert Award: Sgt. James Roy, Colchester Police Department
The Impaired Driving Enforcement Award: Vergennes Police Department
The Occupant Protection Award: Sgt. Timothy Gould, Vermont State Police
GHSP Leadership Award: Scott Davidson, formerly Chief of Governor’s Highway Safety Program, now Captain with Department of Motor Vehicles
The conference opened with remarks from Glen Button, chairman of the Alliance, who said, “what is truly unfortunate is that 56% of people killed in crashes in Vermont so far this year were not wearing their seat belt. How many might have survived the crash if they had taken a few seconds and buckled up?”
Button also noted that more than half of the motor vehicle operators in Vermont involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had an impairing substance in their system, and stressed that as a state we must work harder in our march to “zero deaths.”
The conference theme was The Road to Highway Safety is Paved with Technology. Presentations were made on the use of cameras to enforce speed limits in safety zones; South Dakota’s 24/7 program that uses using technology to hold Driving Under the Influence (DUI) defendants accountable; and the future of automated vehicles.
Following the conference, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) hosted a discussion on automated vehicles, related to Section 15 of the 2017 Transportation Bill (Act 38). VTrans was eager to hear from a variety of stakeholders about how they think automated vehicles will impact Vermont. Over 50 attendees, representing 27 organizations, responded to questions about automated vehicle issues related to legal and regulatory concerns, operator education and emergency response needs, infrastructure changes, and socioeconomic and environment impacts. A panel discussion and a web-based polling system was used to guide the discussion and garner feedback. The feedback will help VTrans in its assessment of autonomous vehicles.
For more information on the Alliance, visit vermonthighwaysafety.org/.
VHSA Annual Report for 5th Annual Conference 2017
Award Ceremony Photos VHSA 2017 Conference
Drug Recognition Expert - Sergeant James Roy: Sergeant James Roy, of the Colchester Police Department, became one of Vermont’s first Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in 2005. He was active in developing Vermont’s program and became Vermont’s first DRE Instructor in 2010. Sergeant Roy has been critical in developing new DRE’s as a lead instructor and course manager in Vermont’s four schools since 2011. He has also taught several schools outside of Vermont and continues to provide training in other impaired driving programs. Sergeant Roy has also been a member of the national impaired driving curriculum development team.
Press Release: November 13th, 2017
Vermont deadly crash data; what's behind the recent uptick?
WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) Every year, state officials release crash data to see if Vermont is doing better at keeping drivers safe, and the reports over the past four years show climbing numbers.
Officers say that there are more drivers on Vermont roadways than ever before. Lt. John Flannigan is the safety programs coordinator for the Vermont State Police. He says gas prices were significantly lower for the majority of the 2017 and people are traveling longer distances. But more people on the road could mean more problems.
"Here we are in 2017 and we still have people who don't wear seatbelts," Flannigan said.
A new report from the state shows 56 percent of driving deaths happen because someone didn't want to buckle up. At a close second is impaired driving and third is speeding.
"If we took those three factors out of our crashes we would significantly decrease our fatalities," Flannigan said.
So far, there have been 60 deaths on Vermont roadways in 2017, and police say they wouldn't be surprised if that number keeps going up.
"People have some sense of invincibility when they are in their vehicles," Flannigan said.
However, while the numbers are high, Flannigan says the data has been higher in the past.
"Before 2000, we didn't have a decade that we had less than a hundred deaths on our highways," he said.
Vermont State Police say the majority of reckless drivers are men.
Flannigan says while 2017's crashes involved people of all ages, the majority were in the 18 to mid-30s age range.
Milton Police Department
Press Release: November 3rd, 2017
Sgt. Locke named Drug Recognition Expert
Contact - The Milton Independent
With drugged driving on the rise, Vermont just graduated its largest class of drug recognition experts since 2005, Milton’s Sgt. Paul Locke among them, the first in the department’s history to earn the certification.
The state now has 53 DREs statewide, up from 38. Supported by federal highway safety funds, the program trains officers to detect drivers under the influence of drugs besides alcohol.
(LEFT: Sgt. Paul Locke sports a pin for his recent certification as a drug recognition expert. “A little pin, but it took a long time to get,” he said. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)
About half of fatal crashes in Vermont this year to date involved drugs, alcohol or both, according to Vermont State Police. That, plus the gaps in DRE coverage statewide, led to the program’s increased enrollment this year, said VSP Lt. John Flannigan, the state’s drug evaluation and classification coordinator.
And not just any officer can get in. They must first take the Vermont Police Academy’s Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement course, be nominated by their supervisor and their county’s state’s attorney and pass oral boards.
Locke completed ARIDE in February and submitted a letter of intent when the latest course opened up. Recognized by the Vt. Governor’s Highway Safety Program for DUI enforcement early in his career, Locke wanted to increase his skills after
spending years in a detective suit.
“Unless the officer is trained to know what to look for, they’re letting people go,” Locke said of basic training’s emphasis on drunk driving enforcement.
“Knowing what I know now, I should have done more back then,” he added. “All those four, five, six people I let go, who now I believe were under the influence, unfortunately could have hurt somebody because I didn’t know the difference.”
DREs use an internationally adopted, 12-step
protocol that’s initiated when patrol officers believe a driver is impaired but there’s no sign of alcohol. In Vermont, the officer calls VSP to dispatch a DRE to the scene. Locke’s region encompasses Chittenden, Franklin and Lamoille counties.
They then check the operator’s pupil size, dexterity, muscle tone, vital signs and more before making a determination if he or she is impaired. Police can then arrest the suspect and request a blood test, just as with a standard DUI. The evaluation can take up to an hour, Locke said.
(RIGHT - Sgt. Paul Locke, Milton police’s first DRE, is pictured in his office last week. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)
Locke thinks the course is more important now that Vermont is on a path to legalize marijuana.
After vetoing a bill last session, Gov. Phil Scott charged a Marijuana Advisory Commission to report on highway safety and cannabis, especially since there’s no nationally adopted “roadside test” to detect a driver’s level of impairment on pot.
Cannabis is one of seven types of drugs DREs learn to detect. Others include depressants like Xanax, Valium and even Prozac; stimulants such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine; narcotics like heroin and OxyContin; dissociative drugs such as PCP; and hallucinogens and inhalants.
For two weeks, Locke took courses at a South Burlington hotel, eating and sleeping there and staying up all night studying for exams. He and the 14 other candidates then completed field training at Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix, Ariz., where arrestees who used drugs within 24 hours consented to be evaluated by DREs in training.
“Things are a little bit different than they are here,” Locke reflected, noting his first subject was high on meth, coke, heroin and pot. “It was an eye-opener that, wow, there are a lot of drugs out there, but it also makes you wonder how much of that is up here that we’re not seeing.”
And sometimes, it may turn out the driver is not impaired at all – or his or her impairment is from legally prescribed medication or stems from a medical condition.
As such, Locke sees DREs as neutral parties who can both aid an officer in establishing probable cause and support drivers who say they’re not impaired. His first and only callout since his certification on September 29 made this very conclusion.
“I really have no dog in the fight; I’m just there to give my opinion,” Locke said.
Flannigan rebutted criticism that DRE protocol is subjective “junk science,” saying Vermont courts have widely accepted DRE evidence.
(LEFT - Sgt. Paul Locke displays a pupillometer, one tool drug recognition experts use to determine which drugs a suspect has ingested. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)
“[That’s] not to say there hasn’t been some rulings that have been negative, but I think by far and large, there’s been rulings throughout the country that have been positive that the DRE program uses those valid principles,” he said.
Locke plans to pass down his DRE training and thinks it will give Milton another tool besides its K9, Hatchi, to aid other agencies in drug enforcement.
“In the past, we’ve always depended on other agencies to help us,” he said. “Now it’s time for us to give back because we have that experience.”
It’s one Flannigan thinks was well-earned, saying DRE certification is “grueling … probably one of the most difficult law enforcement trainings offered in a police officer’s career.”
Flannigan said there’s a constant need to educate the public about impaired driving, and having more DREs can only help.
“People have been hearing for decades to not drink and drive, but clearly prescriptions can impact a person’s ability to operate a vehicle,” he said. “We’ve got to get that message out there more.”
(Left - Sgt. Paul Locke displays a pupillometer, one tool drug recognition experts use to determine which drugs a suspect has ingested. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)
Rutland County Sheriff's Department
Press Release: October 6th, 2017
Child Passenger Safety Seat Checkpoint
Contact - Kevin Geno, Rutland County Sheriff's - Highway Safety
On September 30, 2017, the Rutland County Sheriff's Department and Killington Police Department did a joint child safety seat checkpoint on South Main Street in Rutland City. Over 1200 cars went through this checkpoint, and many seats were fixed on the side of the road by an Inspector ( Deputy Tarbell), but 22 vehicles were sent to the back parking lot to have child safety seats readjusted or removed and replaced. The event took place over a three hour period in cooperation with Sidney Bradley, Child Passenger Safety Coordinator and other Inspectors. This is a yearly event, and we hope to expand this to several times a year, especially during the Click it or Ticket Campaign in May.
Many thanks to everyone involved helped make this event a success.
Press Release: September 1st, 2017
Law Enforcement Out in Droves for Weekend Traffic
Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles Senior Inspector Chris O'Keeffe coordinates with Vermont State Police officers before beginning a patrol on Interstate 89 in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, September 1, 2017. The law enforcement officers were in Lebanon for a joint news conference with New Hampshire State Police on increased patrols for Labor Day weekend.
Lebanon — On Friday afternoon, about 15 uniformed officers from three different law enforcement agencies used the truck weigh station south of Exit 19 on Interstate 89 as a staging area for the first part of their mission — smothering Labor Day weekend traffic with enough of a presence to deter drivers from texting, driving while inebriated or disregarding their seatbelt while behind the wheel.
“We’re focusing on the Upper Valley,” said Lt. Roger Farmer of the Vermont State Police who was joined by Lt. Joe DiRusso of the New Hampshire State Police for a brief joint news conference before the uniformed troopers hopped into their vehicles and flooded the interstate.
Behind DiRusso and Farmer, a half-dozen troopers from each state and two officers from the Department of Motor Vehicles posed for a group picture before receiving their final instructions.
It didn’t take long for the troopers to hit the streets after the meet up. Four New Hampshire troopers were seen running radar around 4 p.m. between Exit 13 in Grantham and Exit 19 in Lebanon.
In five hours on Friday, 100 motorists were issued tickets for speed violations and 8 for the use of hand held electronic devices, according to a Vermont State Police news release.
Members of the public — particularly those who are looking at flashing red and blue lights in their rearview mirror — sometimes deride traffic enforcement as a low priority relative to violent crimes, but DiRusso said the operation is a life-saving mission.
“People who are driving under the influence, we want to get as many of them as possible off the road,” DiRusso said.
The focus is particularly relevant in the wake of a four-day flurry last month of five fatal crashes that killed eight people in the Twin States, including one death in Royalton and another on Interstate 91 in Springfield, Vt., a grim reminder that every year, people in the Upper Valley die on the road.
In 2016, there were 130 fatal crashes in New Hampshire alone, while Farmer said there have been 41 in Vermont so far this year.
A majority of the fatal crashes are associated with intoxication, lack of a seatbelt, or both.
For the police, the weekend’s activities will include saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints in Windsor County, and the New Hampshire police aviation unit also will use a helicopter to monitor the road for speeding or aggressive driving.
Authorities are targeting Labor Day weekend because of an expected dramatic surge in the number of vehicles on the road, including on I-89, which sees traffic counts of about 41,000 near the Vermont state line on an average day.
New Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development officials say they’re expecting a record-setting 640,000 visitors over the three-day weekend, about 3.5 percent higher than last year.
The weather forecast also is calling for possible rain on Sunday, which will increase the likelihood of accidents, Farmer said.
The officers asked that those who notice unsafe drivers in New Hampshire call state police dispatch at 603-223-4381, while those in Vermont call the Royalton Barracks at 802-234-9933.
Press Release: August 31st, 2017
Local police help search for impaired drivers
Photo by Mike Donoghue - Officer Bill Wager of the Hinesburg Community Police checks a driver on Vermont 2A in Williston on Saturday night.
Shelburne Vermont - Police covering Shelburne, Charlotte and Hinesburg say they plan to have officers looking for impaired, distracted and speeding drivers as Vermonters head into the long Labor Day weekend.
Shelburne Deputy Police Chief Aaron Noble said drivers impaired from alcohol and drug use are a primary concern. “We are going to be out there. We will be stepping up enforcement,” Noble said. “Drivers also need to stay within the speed limit. We are looking for people to slow down.”
With the sharp increase in highway fatalities recently in Vermont, Hinesburg Community Police Chief Frank Koss said extra effort will be made to double check that drivers and passengers are using seatbelts. “Since we had a rise in fatalities from not wearing seatbelts, we will be checking for them,” Koss said. He noted that 57 percent of all fatalities involving vehicles with seatbelts available were unbelted.
State police also said they plan to continue their saturation patrols in high traffic areas where they are concentrating their presence as a visible reminder to motorists to drive safely.
Last weekend, Shelburne, Hinesburg police joined state police as part of a special enforcement effort seeking impaired drivers and distracted drivers along with other motor vehicle offenses.
Shelburne Police Sgt. Allen Fortin said the extra assignment included a checkpoint on Vermont 2A in Williston. The southbound traffic was steady, in part, because of the start of the Champlain Valley Fair. Officers checked 500 vehicles and screened six drivers for possible impairment during the two and a half hour checkpoint, Fortin said.
One driver was arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs and the vehicle was impounded for a possible search warrant, Fortin said. No details were available on the driver or the vehicle search. Another driver was ticketed for having an open alcohol container in the car, Fortin said, and six people were warned about not wearing a seatbelt.
Fortin said the enforcement effort brings together multiple law enforcement agencies to work on keeping the roads safe, particularly in light of an increase in fatal crashes in recent weeks.
Other agencies participating in the checkpoint were Williston, Colchester, Burlington and Vermont State Police and the Grand Isle County Sheriff’s Department.
Press Release: August 11th, 2017
Young racecar driver urges Vermonters to buckle up
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) "I got one person in my family to wear it and now my friends to wear it," Evan Hallstrom said.
Above - Evan Hallstrom (Click image for video)
And it won't stop there. Hallstrom, 15, is an advocate for buckling up.
"If we can save one life that's good. But if we can save as many as we can and get the point across that's even better," Hallstrom said.
That's why the Northfield teen has been spearheading a Click it or Ticket effort for two years across the state.
"We go around to schools, talk to kids and anybody who has any questions about enforcing seat belts," he said.
You may wonder how someone who doesn't even have a driver's license yet can be so into this.
"My parents have been at the racetrack for 35 years at least," Hallstrom said.
He races late model cars and is a well-known driver in Vermont for his title wins. And smack dab on his car is the sign urging everyone to use a seat belt.
Hallstrom says when he started racing two years ago something scary happened.
"I had a bad crash and that car was pretty much done," he said.
He was wearing a seat belt and walked away from the crash. That same year he landed in third overall at Devil's Bowl Speedway. And he plans to share that story for as long as he can, whether it's on the track or on the roads, his message is clear.
"It takes so little time to buckle up and save your life," Hallstrom said.
Hallstrom is racing Saturday at the speedway and says he always makes time on race day to talk to anyone about the campaign.
Press Release: August 8th, 2017
What will convince Vermont drivers to buckle up?
(Click Image for video)
WATERBURY, Vt. (WCAX) "Drivers do your job," Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison said.
Bridport, Brownington, Springfield, South Royalton and Milton: five crashes and eight fatalities since Saturday. The sudden spike in deadly collisions sparked law enforcement to try to send a message to Vermonters.
"These crashes should be a stark reminder to all of us who drive in Vermont of our responsibility to driver safety," Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson said.
The recent wrecks bring the total number of deaths on Vermont roads to 38 and 40 if you count ATVs. Sixteen were not wearing seat belts, including the four killed in the Bridport crash.
"If you are the driver of a vehicle, insist on seat belts for all occupants," Morrison said.
What's alarming here is that the state has seen the number of fatal crashes rise steadily since 2014 when 44 people died on Vermont roads. In 2015, that number jumped to 57. Last year, 62 people were killed.
These latest crashes put the state on track for similar numbers this year. Last year at this time, we saw 38 fatal wrecks. And we're there this year, too.
"As of today, we have two more traffic fatalities than we did at this point in 2016," Vt. State Police Lt. John Flannigan said.
Police are promising more patrols but Vermont doesn't allow police to pull someone over for not wearing a seat belt. It's a secondary offense, meaning a driver must be pulled over for something else first. State Police won't say if they would support upping the seat belt law to a primary offense.
"That's not going to be the be-all and the end-all to change driver behavior if we have a mandatory seat belt law or not a mandatory seat belt law," Anderson said.
State Police do say in states that allow people to be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt, usage goes up by about 5 percent. So, in Vermont, where 84.5 percent of people buckle up, that number could go to nearly 90 percent.
Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, hasn't supported primary seat belt laws in the past. But he told us in a statement that he's asked for more data, and if the trend continues, he is not ruling out a change to seat belt laws.
Press Release: July 20th, 2017
Why is drugged driving test so controversial?
BURLINGTON, Vt. - We told you Wednesday about the signs police look for to spot drugged drivers on Vermont roads. Now, we're focusing on a test that the state is using. Kyle Midura explains why it's controversial.
Vermont State Tpr. Jay Riggen says data shows that about 1 in 50 drivers on the road at any time are under the influence of something, and whether it's recreational or prescription doesn't change the level of danger on the roadway.
"The reality is impairment is impairment," Riggen said.
A prominent defense attorney has questioned the legitimacy of the science behind drug recognition experts or DREs and does point to credible academic studies to back up his position.
ACLU spokespeople say they believe DREs are a sensible way of enforcing drugged driving in Vermont.
"Where there is suspicion that someone is under the influence, we want our roads to be safe, too," said Jay Diaz of the Vermont ACLU.
But they voice concern about Vermont possibly expanding a pilot project that involved a roadside saliva swab test. It's designed to detect whether a motorist has recently used a drug and would indicate to an officer if they should continue an investigation.
"Whether you're going to arrest somebody needs to be based on a scientifically sound theory," Diaz said.
Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, has said the state should not legalize the sale of marijuana until there's a roadside test similar to a Breathalyzer. The Legislature is expected to consider doing so again next January, whether the science for such a test has been developed or not.
Related Story: A Llook at efforts to catch drugged drivers in Vermont
Press Release: July 19th, 2017
Course aims to put teens on the road to safe driving
ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -"Next year I'm going to be able to go wherever I want without my parents," said Jack Sinopoli of Williston.
The words every parent dreads but every teen is feeling. Just ask Jack Sinopoli, he's 15 with a learner's permit.
"You're in the driver's seat," he said. "So you can do what you want to do."
Except that's not quite how dad sees it.
"Divide and conquer. I'm doing today; my wife is doing tomorrow," Michael Sinopoli said.
The Williston dad is helping his son on the road to safer driving. His wife is helping their daughter, Josie, through a national program.
"Having someone from the outside teaching your child to do something, they are more apt to listen," Michael Sinopoli said.
"Our messaging is serious but we found teaching through fun is more effective teaching that way," said Mike Speck of Ford Driving Skills for Life.
Ford Driving Skills for Life is an international program that teaches young drivers to be smarter drivers through hands-on exercises.
"They get to do things inside our cars that their parents would never let them do in their cars," Speck said.
Like skidding through cones and driving with a phone in their hand. It may all seem like fun and games but there's a reason the experts say practicing these no-no’s work.
According to Ford researchers, the three things that cause the most deadly crashes in Vermont and across the country include:
- Going too fast without leaving space between cars
- Controlling the car
- Impaired or distracted driving
"We're doing what we can to stop that from happening," Speck said.
For dad Michael Sinopoli, the crash course brings peace of mind.
"I think every parent will say their kids are the most important part of their lives," he said.
"It also brings some clarity for his son.
"They weigh 3,000 pounds and go 0 to 60 in three seconds, so just be safe because these things are insanely fast and dangerous," Jack Sinopoli said.
The program is free and happening at GlobalFoundries park. There are two more sessions July 20. All you have to do is show up and register there or online. Click here for more information and to register.
Contact: Kevin Geno, RCSD
Press Release: July 14th, 2017
Vermont State Police go after distracted drivers
Contact: WPTZ News
WILLISTON, Vt. — Troopers across Vermont are taking part in Operation See, to spot those violating the law.
This comes just two weeks after a new state law went into effect. It carries a hefty fine and two points on your license if you are convicted of driving while using a portable device.
Troopers said it hasn't made much of an impact yet.
Green mountain Transit is partnered with police, allowing them to put cameras on an empty bus.
As they drove down I-89 a member of the Vermont State Police would spot drivers violating the law, then radio to a trooper so they could pull the car over.
During Thursday’s two-hour ride, five violators were spotted.
Three tickets and two warnings were issued
Press Release: May 22nd, 2017
Click It or Ticket Campaign
Contact: WPTZ News
Vermont, New York police join forces for Click it or Ticket campaign.
CHARLOTTE, Vt. — Ahead of Memorial Day, Vermont law enforcement met New York police on the ferry from Charlotte to Essex to kick off their Border to Border campaign.
“As of last Friday in Vermont, 19 people lost their lives in crashes. While that number may seem small depending on which state you're from, those are lives lost to families and communities and they affect everybody,” Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn said.
The group said roughly half the people who die in crashes aren't wearing their seat belt.
“It's not just the law, it's the small thing you can do that will protect you, your passengers and everyone on the roads that we all share together,” Flynn said.
Vermont joins 20 other states in the national campaign committing to the effort.
From now until June 4, police will be on patrol and holding checkpoints, enforcing driving and seat belt laws.
In Vermont, tickets start at $25 for the first offense and can get up to $100 for subsequent offenses.
“If we see you or your front seat passenger without a seat belt, or child that is not properly restrained, you will get a ticket. Our goal is to make sure that everyone gets where they are going safely,” New York State Police Maj. John Tebbetts said.
Press Release: May 22nd, 2017
Click It or Ticket Campaign
Click It or Ticket Campaign Kicks Off Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend.
CHARLOTTE, VT - Law enforcement agencies are out in full force to make sure you buckle up.
The message Monday was simple; seatbelts save lives.
"Across the country, we are joining forces to drive home this very important message during Click It or Ticket," says Vermont Transportation Secretary, Joe Flynn.
More than 20 states are participating in the enforcement campaign, including State Police in Vermont and New York.
"In fact during last year's Click It or Ticket campaign, New York State troopers wrote more than 10,000 seatbelt and child safety seat tickets and more than 800 tickets for child restraint violations," says New York State Police Major John Tibbitts.
For the next two weeks, law enforcement will step up seat belt checkpoints along highways connecting neighboring states.
At least 19 people have lost their lives on Vermont roads this year, according to VTrans Secretary, Joe Flynn.
"In general about half the people who die in crashes are not wearing safety belts, this doesn't have to be the case."
In fact Vermont State Police say there were two fatal crashes just in the last week where the person was either not wearing seat belt or wearing it improperly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says nationwide, there's a specific group who fail to click it, year after year.
"It's 18 to 34 males, typically driving pickup trucks," says Ted Minall of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A handful of other states are participating in the Click It or Ticket campaign, including nearby states Maine and New Hampshire.
Press Release: May 19th, 2017
Click It or Ticket Campaign
Contact: Intrim GHSP Chief - Allison Laflamme -(802) 498-8079
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Click It or Ticket Campaign Starts May 22
Montpelier, VT — May 19, 2017--As summer kicks off and families hit the road for vacations, the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Program, in partnership with state, county, and local law enforcement agencies all across the state, is reminding motorists to Click It or Ticket. Aimed at enforcing seat belt use to help keep you and your family safe, the national seat belt campaign will take place May 22 through June 4, concurrent with one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year.
“Our law enforcement personnel see firsthand the devastating loss of life that can occur when people neglect to buckle up” said Paul White, Law Enforcement Liaison for the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “It’s such a simple thing, and it should be an automatic next step after sitting down in a vehicle.” As the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches and the summer vacation season ramps up, “We want to keep our community members safe, and make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash: buckling up. If the enforcement crackdown wakes people up to the dangers of unrestrained driving and gets them to buckle up, we’ll consider it a success.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of the 22,441 passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2015 were unrestrained. During the nighttime hours from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., that number soared to 57 percent of those killed. That’s why one focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement. Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing tickets day and night. In Vermont, the penalty for a seat belt violation is $25.00 for the first offense and up to $100.00 for subsequent offenses.
Please help us spread this life-saving message before one more friend or family member is killed as a result of this senseless inaction. Seat belts save lives, and everyone—front seat and back, child and adult—needs to remember to buckle up, every trip, every time.
For more information on the Click It or Ticket national mobilization, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.
Press Release: May 18th, 2017
Shelburne Police Department
Contact: Sgt. Allen Fortin, Allen.Fortin@vermont.gov
2017 CLICK IT OR TICKET “Border to Border”
As motorists take to the roads this Memorial Day holiday, Vermont law enforcement are urging everyone to buckle up. Beginning May 22, 2017, law enforcement officials will be out in full force, taking part in the 2017 National Click It or Ticket (CIOT) seat belt enforcement mobilization and cracking down on motorists who are not belted
“As we kick-off the busy summer driving season, it is critical that everyone buckles up every time they go out, day and night – no excuses,” said Sgt. Allen A Fortin (Northern CIOT Task Force Leader). “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt, including drivers that have neglected to properly buckle their children. – Click It or Ticket.”
At 4:00 p.m. on May 22th, Vermont law enforcement will join law enforcement agencies across the Eastern United States in mobilizing the Click It or Ticket (CIOT) “Border to Border” Operation. Law enforcement agencies will join forces to provide increased seat belt enforcement at State borders, sending a zero tolerance message to the public: driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket, no matter what State.
This year the Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program and the Click it or Ticket Task Force, has teamed up with the New England Red Cross to reduce injury Crashes. As part of the Border to Border this year (MAY 22, 2017) we are doing the press event on the Lake Champlain - Charlotte ferry. We are hoping to have Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott and a Represntative from New York State. We are going to load the Vermont cruisers on the ferry about 10am and then travel to the New York side and load the New York cruisers. We will then have the press conference in the middle of the lake on the way back to Vermont.
Vermont Law Enforcement agencies and the Vermont Click It or Ticket Task Force will be using roving patrols and check points, on roadways identified as having higher unbelted crash rates. They will be enforcing Aggressive Driving, Speeding, Distracted Driving and Impaired operation during this period. These behaviors are the leading causes of serious crashes and for those motorists we encounter, wearing your seat belt will NOT be optional.
“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists are still not buckling up, especially at night when the risk of getting in a crash is even greater,” said Tom Fields from governor’s Highway Safety office. “We want to make this the safest summer possible. Buckling up is not optional; it’s the difference between life and death in a crash. That’s why we’re out here enforcing the law. Click it or Ticket, every time, day or night.”
Press Release: May 10th, 2017
Rutland County Sheriff's Department
Contact: Lt. Kevin Geno, Kevin.Geno@vermont.gov
Rutland County Sheriff's Office, Highway Safety Specialist Lt. Kevin Geno, speaks on the 2017 Click It or Ticket campaign. Click on the picture to play the PSA.
Press Release: May 2nd, 2017
Inside Line Promotions
Contact: Shawn Miller (Shawn@InsideLinePromotions.com (541) 510-3663)
Hallstrom Motorsports Partners with Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program With Driver Evan Hallstrom
Inside Line Promotions - NORTHFIELD, Vt. (May 2, 2017) - Hallstrom Motorsports is excited to announce a partnership with the Governor's Highway Safety Program of Vermont for the 2017 season.
"In racing, it's always about safety," said Evan Hallstrom, who pilots a late model for his family owned team. "Personally, my No. 1 thing is to buckle up and try to stay as safe as possible, whether I'm strapped in my race car or driving down the highway. It's something that's very important to me. I'm very excited to work with the Governor's Highway Safety Program and the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance with their campaigns to promote seat belt safety across the state."
The Governor's Highway Safety Program is a federally funded program that facilitates and supports, with federal grants, a statewide network to promote safe driving behavior on Vermont highways. The goal of the program is to provide a safe, reliable and multimodal transportation system that promotes Vermont's quality of life and economic well-being.
"The state of Vermont is not a primary seat belt state," GHSP Program Coordinator Jim Baraw stated. "With that being the case, we need to heavily educate the public as for the usage of seat belts and seat belt safety and why you should use them."
Throughout the year, the Governor's Highway Safety Program funds the Click it or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaigns as well as partners with the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance to promote seat belt safety with many outreach and community events.
"With Evan coming on board with our program we think it's a great partnership to get the message out about seat belt safety," Baraw said. "Wearing a seat belt is not only the right thing to do to save lives, it's also the cool thing to do. It's great that Evan can promote wearing a seat belt in his personal vehicle and his race car."
Hallstrom will be engaging with some of the educational programs, not only as an advocate of seat belt safety, but as a peer as well.
"When we met Evan, we could tell that seat belt safety is something he is passionate about," Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Coordinator Evelyn McFarlane said. "He talked about how he has already had conversations with his peers with the positives of wearing a seat belt so he really made a fantastic fit for the purpose of reaching out to the youngest level there is and making seat belt safety a behavior and habit."
In May, Hallstrom will actively be involved in the national Click it or Ticket campaign as well as make an appearance at Mount Abraham High School in Bristol, Vt., as a public speaker on seat belt safety. The Governor's Highway Safety Program, Click it or Ticket and Seat Belts Save Lives campaigns will all be displayed on the hood of Hallstrom's race car as well.
"So far the entire partnership with Evan and his parents have been great," Baraw said. "They're all very positive moving forward and we're very excited to work with them. Hopefully this will be a good relationship for years to come."
MEDIA LINKS -
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT - Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program
The Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program is a federally funded program that facilitates and supports, with federal grants, a statewide network to promote safe driving behavior on Vermont highways. The goal of the program is to provide a safe, reliable and multimodal transportation system that promotes Vermont's quality of life and economic well-being. For more information, visit http://ghsp.vermont.gov/.
"Personally, my No. 1 thing is to buckle up and try to stay as safe as possible, whether I'm strapped in my race car or driving down the highway," Hallstrom said. "It's something that's very important to me. I'm very excited to work with the Governor's Highway Safety Program and the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance with their campaigns to promote seat belt safety across the state."
Hallstrom Motorsports would also like to thank Hallstrom Excavating, Vermont Safety Alliance, Randolph Auto Supply, Butler MacMaster, TriStar Racewear, AR Bodies, Swift Springs, Scotty B's Trucking, Depot Square Pizzeria, The Joie of Seating and Froggy 100.9 for their continued support.
Press Release: April 20th, 2017
Vermont Police crack down on Move Over Law.
Click on the picture to play the story video
Vermont Highway Safety Alliance
Press Release: April 10th, 2017
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Green Mountain Transit now has this rolling on 44 buses when they are out of service but still on the roads and interstate, returning to the depot or starting points. They loaded the message in yesterday.
Vermont Highway Safety Alliance
Press Release: April 6th, 2017
Mt. Abe to Host Personal Safety Fair for Students May 5
Collaborative Community Project Brings VT Organizations to High School Campus
BRISTOL: On Friday, May 5 Mt. Abraham Union High School will host workshops and presentations by numerous organizations, creating a day-long, campus-wide event with a ‘personal safety’ theme for students. The fair, developed by faculty and students in partnership with the Youth Safety Council of Vermont and with support from Co-operative Insurance Companies, will showcase safety knowledge from across Vermont.
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.1 The safety fair is meant to have a positive impact on Mt. Abraham’s student drivers, so they might choose to drive thoughtfully for their own benefit and the safety of others. A mock crash will be the central educational experience of the fair, presented by students in the Mt. Abraham Vermont Teen Leadership Safety Program (VTLSP) in conjunction with Bristol Fire, Police and Rescue Departments. A scripted, simulated crash will reveal the potentially tragic outcomes of distracted driving, wearing no seat belt, and bad decision-making. Mock crashes are dramatic educational tools that complement consistent messaging and prevention programs.
Participants in the fair include Barrett’s Trucking, who will bring a 'big rig' to help young drivers experience the blind spots that the drivers of large trucks face. The Vermont State Police will present forensic crash reconstruction techniques. Motorcycle safety will be addressed by Ride Safe VT, and Sharon Huntley will speak about the tragic loss of her teen son, Spencer, in a distraction-related crash. The Youth Safety Council will present ‘Turn Off Texting,’ with students driving a golf cart while texting to learn first-hand how dangerous distracted driving can be, and AT&T will be there with their It Can Wait campaign, talking about the dangers of texting while driving. Teen race car driver Evan Hallstrom will be on hand to talk about the importance of safety belts. Many other organizations including the Vermont Department of Health, UVM Medical Center, Alive At 25, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, AAA Northern New England, WomenSafe, FireProTec, Middlebury College, Heritage Toyota and Ford, Bristol Rescue, Bristol Police, TextLess LiveMore and other community volunteers will be on campus to present information and interact with students. In addition to the VTLSP student group, students in the Mt Abraham senior civics class have stepped forward to help plan and implement the event, taking positive civic action in their school community.
Mt. Abraham principal Jessica Barewicz said, “An amazing team of teachers, students, and community members are thoughtfully planning a meaningful experience for all at the Safety Fair. They know that as school community we need to understand that the concept of safety needs to be taken in many directions. Without a safe educational and living environment humans can't learn and thrive. I'm so grateful for the work they are doing to engage the whole community in a conversation about safety."
With the assistance of Heritage Ford, faculty, students and volunteers will help document the event to create an online reference guide, building on the work of the Youth Safety Council to publish a directory of free safety programming available to Vermont schools, yscvt.wordpress.com. The new guide will help other Vermont high schools produce similar safety fairs with confidence and easy access to many freely available programs.
Sharon Koller, Student Assistance Program Counselor at Mt. Abraham and advisor to the student “VTLSP” club, facilitated the event planning. She said, “Our school is committed to preparing students to make decisions that have positive consequences for themselves and others. This Safety Fair expands on that commitment, giving students even more insight and information to help them independently be safer on the roads and in their daily lives.”
James Lockridge, Executive Director of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont, said, “Vermont can look to the people of Bristol and our safety community across the state for a model of collaboration. This project exemplifies the vision of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance which inspired this safety fair effort.” The VHSA is a non-profit organization that brings together highway safety stakeholders from all over Vermont, including state agencies and law enforcement as well as federal partners, insurance companies, and nonprofit organizations, vermonthighwaysafety.org
Contact: Sharon Koller, email@example.com, (802) 453-2333.
About Mt. Abraham Union High School: Mt. Abraham is a Grades 7-12 public middle/high school in the village of Bristol, serving the Five Town district of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven, and Starksboro. Mt. Abraham is part of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANESU) and works to create and maintain a stimulating and respectful environment in which all are engaged, all pursue and promote learning, and all participate as active, responsible citizens. http://www.mtabevt.org/
About the Youth Safety Council of VT: The YSCVT uses golf carts and an advanced driving simulator to demonstrate the dangers of distraction to Vermont’s student drivers. With support from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and sponsors, the ‘Turn Off Texting’ program is free to high schools and community groups statewide. yscvt.org
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality facts: teenagers 2014. Arlington (VA): The Institute; 2014 [cited 2016 Sept 20]. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers
Photo: Faculty, students, and community members plan the Mt. Abraham safety fair. Clockwise from left:: Sharon Koller, Student Assistance Program Counselor; Kevin Masse, Driver Educator; James Lockridge, Executive Director, Youth Safety Council of Vermont; Anne Friedrichs, Social Studies Teacher; Siena Hoaglund and Satinder Pabla, students. Photo courtesy Youth Safety Council of Vermont. Full resolution file available at http://www.yscvt.dreamhosters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Safety_Fair_Planning-FULLRESOLUTION.jpg
Burlington Free Press
Press Release: March 31st, 2017
Fatal crashes increase in Vermont
Press Release: March 14th, 2017
Texting and driving from new heights
Press Release: February 28th, 2017
Have some Vermont crossways become too dangerous?
There have been five fatalities on Vermont roadways in the past seven day
Burlington Free Press
Press Release: February 6th, 2017
Most crash-prone stretch of Interstate 89? Exits 13-16
The busiest and most crash-prone section of Interstate 89 is between Exit 16 in Colchester and Exit 13 in South Burlington, according to data collected by the state police and the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
"We hear a lot from the public on a regular basis about the aggressive driving that occurs in there," Vermont State Police Lt. Garry Scott said Monday. "Actual data shows we have a high call volume in this stretch."
State agencies want the public to weigh in on the issues they see, via an online survey, to help shape any fixes. The survey is conducted by the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance, in partnership with the state police, state transportation agency, Department of Motor Vehicles and local law enforcement agencies.
More than 55,000 cars travel through that highway stretch per day, Scott said. The state police barracks in Williston, which covers the interstate from Georgia to Waterbury, sees about 1,500 calls per year on the interstate. Of those calls, 900 are for incidents between exits 13 and 16, Scott said.
The state agencies believe most travelers in this area are commuting to and from work in Burlington or surrounding areas. Scott said the high volume of motorists coupled with driving tendencies in the area creates a high potential for crashes and congestion.
One such event happened Monday morning in the southbound stretch between Winooski and South Burlington when multiple cars were involved in a crash and caused delays during the 7-8 a.m. rush hour.
"I've driven all over the country and in multiple overseas locations. VTers simply suck at merging," Shawn Benjamin of St. Albans wrote in a post on the Burlington Free Press' Facebook page. "Three lanes would be nice, but folks here love to hang out in the passing lane and have little concept of a driving lane versus an entry/exit lane."
In a follow-up phone conversation, Benjamin said he thinks the area should be three lanes instead of two from exits 13 to 16.Merging in that area seems to be one of the biggest difficulties for drivers, he said.
"People don't know how to drive the interstate and how to be courteous," he said.
Carol Polakowski of Essex Junction, who drives from Exit 15 in Winooski to Exit 13 each day, agreed that the highway should be expanded to three lanes. She said the biggest issues she sees are tailgating and drivers failing to slow down from 65 to 55, as the speed limit mandates. Polakowski hopes there will be more enforcement of the speed limit and around aggressive driving.
"For me, a perfect driving road is at least three lanes, because you've got the right lane for the slow merging in and out, you've got the middle lane for traveling, and the left lane for passers," Polakowski said.
In the meantime, Polakowski asked other drivers to pay attention and slow down.
"It's only a three-mile stretch; you're going to get through it," Polakowski said.
Others commenting on the Burlington Free Press' Facebook page agreed that merging is a problem and added that impatient or aggressive drivers also are an issue. Some asked for greater enforcement from police regarding speeders. Several also indicated the exit and entrance ramps, especially around Exit 14 east and west, can be problematic.
Lt. Scott said the state is looking for short- and long-term solutions. He said the collaborating agencies are considering rumble strips near the exits and more permanent signs to improve merging and awareness. The agencies also are looking at how road design and infrastructure may play into some of the problems. By midafternoon Tuesday, almost 1,600 people had responded to the survey, state police spokesman Scott Waterman said.
"We're also hoping the public can give us some suggestions as they drive through it every day as to what we can do to fix this and kind of make it safer for everyone," Scott said. He added, "We understand it's a problem and we want input."
VERMONT GOVERNOR'S HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM
The 2016 Vermont Impaired Driving Summit
Press Release: December 7th, 2016
New effort to target impaired drivers - WCAX News
Vermont Leaders Want to Crack Down on Impaired Driving - Fox 44 News
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -
More than 60 lives have been lost in traffic accidents in Vermont this year and nearly half of those crashes involved impaired drivers. Vermont legislators, prosecutors and police gathered Wednesday in South Burlington to learn more about the problem.
Despite stricter laws, targeted enforcement and education efforts, drunk driving remains a scourge on the highway. But with marijuana legalization looming, drug impairment and how to detect it is also a growing concern.
"When you have lost 29 people where impairment was a contributing factor in one year, that certainly is something we should take a look at. And when you take a look at these numbers and see drug impairment surpassing drunk impairment, that's concerning," said Scott Davidson of the Governor's Highway Safety Program.
The state is looking to get more officers around the state specially trained in detecting impaired drivers. Another goal is to get a bill passed allowing oral fluid testing of drugged driving suspects.
Addison County Independent
Press Release: November 30th, 2016
Local firms support 'Click-it or Ticket' safety effort
NEW HAVEN — This past Wednesday, Nov. 23, local businesses joined law enforcement officers and officials from the Governor’s Highway Safety Council, AAA of New England and the Vermont Truck and Bus Association to promote the importance of seat belt use in a press conference in New Haven.
Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition of New Haven and Mike’s Fuels of Bridport were the featured local businesses at the event. Officials said these companies promote occupant protection, not only within their operations, but in all areas where they do business. Both companies have agreed to place “Click-it or Ticket” decals on their vehicles in a further attempt to saturate the motoring public with the message that using seat belts is not only a good idea, but it is required by law.
The press conference took place in the parking lot at Phoenix Feeds, and included police officers from the Vergennes Police Department and the Vermont State Police, among others.
AAA, also known as the American Automobile Association, advised that over Thanksgiving a million more Americans were expected to travel than last year because of a boost in consumer confidence. Nearly 9 in 10 people travel by automobile. With a greater number of vehicles on the road, comes a potential for more crashes resulting in injury or death.
Many of these can be avoided by simply wearing a seatbelt.
Vermont Law Enforcement will be actively enforcing traffic laws this holiday season to make sure all travelers are wearing their seatbelts.
Vermont has already seen the loss of 57 lives on our roads in 2016. Please, Click-it or Ticket.
VERMONT GOVERNOR'S HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM
Click It or Ticket Mobilization Fall 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2016
CONTACT: Scott Davidson, Governor’s Highway Safety Program
Law Enforcement Launches Click It or Ticket Mobilization
Montpelier, Vermont – Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year, when millions of Americans hit the road to spend time with friends and family. But more vehicles on the road means potential for more crashes and more fatalities. Tragically, Vermont has already lost 57 lives on our roads since the beginning of the year and far too many of those were not wearing a seat belt. We at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) believe that one death is too many, so we are asking all Vermonters this Holiday Season to always Buckle Up.
This Thanksgiving, state and local law enforcement are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement agencies across the country on a high-visibility Click It or Ticket mobilization to make sure all Thanksgiving travelers are wearing their seat belts.
The Click It or Ticket campaign is designed to save lives by making sure all Vermont drivers and passengers get the message to wear their seat belts. The campaign combines powerful messages about seat belt safety with increased patrolling for all unbuckled motorists.
Vermont law enforcement will also be actively enforcing Aggressive Driving, Speeding, Distracted Driving and Impaired Driving during this Holiday Season. These behaviors are the leading causes of serious injury and fatal crashes.
In partnership, VTrans, the American Automobile Association, (AAA), the Vermont Truck and Bus Association, the Vermont law enforcement community and our federal partners will be hosting a press conference on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at 09:00 at Phoenix Feed 5482 Ethan Allen Highway in New Haven, next to the intersection of Rt. 7 / Rt. 117 to promote the BUCKLE UP message.
In addition, this summer the Vermont Truck and Bus Association committed to promoting the Buckle Up message, not only in Vermont, but in all areas where they do business in New England and across the country by posting Click It or Ticket signs on the rear of all their vehicles.
For more information about traveling safely during the Holiday Season, please visit ghsp.vermont.gov.
Press Release: November 10th, 2016
Vt. State Police go undercover to bust distracted drivers
CHARLOTTE, Vt. - We all know the dangers of texting and driving, but hundreds of drivers do it anyway. Investigative Reporter Jennifer Costa found out Vermont State Police are now going undercover to bust drivers breaking the hands-free law.
Transportation Area Maintenance Supervisor Chris Bearor catches drivers doing a lot of crazy things.
"They might be reading a book. I've seen makeup being put on, brushing their hair, shaving. I've seen it all," said Bearor.
But the single biggest distraction is cellphones.
Bearor works for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Typically there are just a couple of cones between him and two tons of steel.
"It can be very scary at times," said Bearor.
Since Vermont's hands-free law went into effect last year, being a flagger has gotten more dangerous.
"People are looking down even more than before. Before it was up in the air, they were somewhat looking at what was going on. Now, they don't look up at all," said Dan Shepard, area maintenance supervisor.
The average driver will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road just to send a single text. Shepard sees one out of every three drivers doing it.
"They come on the workers and they don't even realize that one of them is outside of the cone a little bit and it's a close call," said Shepard.
"People still aren't getting the message," said Lt. John Flannigan, Vermont State Police.
Now that Vermont law bans all hand-held electronics, it's easier for police to catch drivers in the act.
"So, we're looking at some new strategies," said Flannigan.
And there are more eyes watching than ever before.
"We've got another one. Green F-150. It's got a white tag. It's coming down now," said Sgt. Dave Sutton, Vt. State Police.
He looks like a flagger, but Sutton is really a spotter working undercover to crack down on texters. When he sees one, he radios ahead to a trooper waiting to make the stop.
Sgt. Paul Ravelin: When you drove by you had the cellphone up in your hand you were looking down at it. You're in a construction zone with people walking around.
Driver: Can't argue with you, sir.
State police are trying this strategy out in work zones across the state
Press Release: October 27th, 2016
WCAX earns Lifesaver Award for road safety series
BURLINGTON, Vt. - This summer WCAX was focused on keeping families safe on the roads.
The high number of deaths on Vermont roads had us going in depth and asking questions about what was being done to stop crashes from happening.
Wednesday, WCAX received the Lifesaver Award at the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance annual meeting for the work we did on The Drive for Summer Safety.
All day media blitz for "Staying safe this summer" - WCAX
Youth Safety Council of Vermont, AT&T, & Governor's Highway Safety Program Raise 'Turn Off Texting' Awareness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 18, 2016
Statewide high school anti-distraction program made free to driver educators
The dangers of texting while driving and other distractions are immense and real, but many new drivers are unaware of the potential consequences. The Youth Safety Council is working to change the perspectives of young drivers, making roads safer in Vermont one generation at a time and at no cost to educators. Support from AT&T and a federal grant managed by the state are making this possible.
The Youth Safety Council of Vermont shares its Turn Off Texting demonstration with teen drivers at high schools across the state, raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving by putting students behind the wheel of a golf cart to navigate a course of cones while texting. It’s a unique, memorable and effective experience for participants that helps them always make safer decisions about how they drive. James Lockridge, YSCVT Executive Director, said, “A crucial lesson for new drivers is learning that their actions affect others, and that they make decisions not just for themselves but for the safety of other people. Turn Off Texting helps Vermont teens discover this responsibility and commit to it.”
The Vermont Governor's Highway Safety Program (GHSP) awards federal highway safety grant funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to local, state and non-profit agencies for projects to improve highway safety and reduce deaths and serious injuries due to crashes. Funded projects align with the state’s strategic highway safety plan. GHSP has awarded the Turn Off Texting program a 2016-2017 grant that makes it possible to present the program free of charge to Vermont high schools and community events. James Baraw, GHSP Program Coordinator, said, ”The Youth Safety Council has been a champion of safety for Vermont’s newest road users and every year we find the Turn Off Texting program reinforcing our confidence in their work. That’s demonstrated by this grant award.”
AT&T is renewing their sponsorship support for Turn Off Texting as a strong ally and advocate for the safety of drivers in Vermont. Their dedication to driver safety resulted in ‘It Can Wait’ — a national movement urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving and expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel. Owen Smith, AT&T Regional Vice President, said, "The Turn Off Texting program provides a visceral experience for participants and we count the Youth Safety Council among our most effective partners in sharing this message. Through programs like this, we have helped to grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to more than 90% of audiences surveyed.”
Driver educators are encouraged to schedule a Turn Off Texting demonstration at their school in October or early November while weather is mild, and also choose dates in the spring. More information about the program — including a video overview — and the option to request a demonstration can be found at yscvt.org.
For more information, contact:
Youth Safety Council of Vermont: James Lockridge, Executive Director. (802) 881-9050, firstname.lastname@example.org, yscvt.org
Governor’s Highway Safety Program: James Baraw, Program Manager. (802) 760-9222, James.Baraw@Vermont.gov, ghsp.vermont.gov
AT&T: Owen Smith, External Affairs. (207) 771-8511, email@example.com, ItCanWait.com
Photos: (Top) Turn Off Texting presenter Paul Burroughs with student drivers, driver educator
Sandie Chaloux, Andrew Kingman of AT&T, and Officer Benjamin Michaud of the Montpelier
Police at U32 High School in East Montpelier, 2016. (Bottom) Owen Smith of AT&T speaks at
a road safety event on the steps of the Vermont state house, 2016.
Vermont Highway Fatalities Up 20 Percent
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2016
The Governor's Highway Safety Program reports there have been 43 traffic fatalities so far in 2016, including 10 motorcyclists and five pedestrians. Scott Davidson, GHSP chief, told Vermont Edition Thursday that factors like good weather and an improving economy can lead to an increase in accidents and fatalities. Click Here to Listen
Rutland County begins data-driven enforcement program, targets hot spots for speed, impaired driving and fatalities.
WPTZ News Story.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2016
RUTLAND, Vt. - Nearly a dozen police agencies from across Rutland County announced a new effort Wednesday to coordinate their patrols to target intersections and roadways that state crash data shows have become the region's most dangerous.
"Rutland is actually a pilot project," said Scott Davidson, with the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "We need to do better by combining resources and working together."
Modeled after the established SHARP accident reduction program in Chittenden County, Rutland will begin its own data-driven enforcement focusing on a dozen hot spots around the county.
The Rutland County Sheriff's Department will administer a $360,000 federal grant that will fund extra overtime for officers in the coming year.
"We have a problem with drunk driving, with people not being restrained and with fatal accidents," said Lt. Kevin Geno. "We've had, in the last year, two fatal crashes that involved three people in each fatal crash."
The targeted areas span both Rutland's urban corridors and back country roads. Plainclothes officers in unmarked cars -- even on bikes and in big rigs -- will hunt for drivers ignoring Vermont's ban on hand-held electronics, or not wearing seat belts.
"I drive an unmarked car. Every day, I see five or six or seven people on cellphones weaving around the road," Rutland Sheriff Steven Bernard said.
By the end of 2017, police hope to see Rutland County's 85 percent seat belt use rate rise to 87 or 88 percent, and see a net reduction of at least five serious crashes.
"That would be huge," Bernard said.
The sheriff said he'll again lobby state lawmakers in Montpelier who have resisted a change allowing motorists to be pulled over and ticketed for no reason other than failure to wear a seat belt.
Right now in Vermont, officers need another reason to initiate a stop.