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YCQM - Lt. John Flannigan, Ted Minall - July 8, 2012 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM - Lt. John Flannigan, Ted Minall - July 8, 2012

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

July 8, 2012 -- Vt. State Police Lt. John Flannigan and Ted Minall of the Governor's Highway Safety Program join Kristin Kelly and Jennifer Reading to discuss highway safety issues.

TRANSCRIPT:

>> Announcer: FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYBODY. TODAY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT FATAL CRASHES IN VERMONT AND A NEW STATE CRACKDOWN TO TRY TO PREVENT THEM.

>> WE FOUND OUT THAT THIS WEEK, THE HEAT PROGRAM IS CONTROVERSIAL.

>> THIS MORNING, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT LT. JOHN FLANNIGAN OF THE VERMONT STATE POLICE AND TED MINALL FROM THE GOVERNOR'S HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.

>> GOOD MORNING.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING US.

>> A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

>> TO GET A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON THIS HEAT INITIATIVE, JENNIFER, YOU WERE COVERING THIS EARLIER THIS WEEK.

>> I DID. I HAD A CHANCE TO COVER THIS. THE MESSAGE FROM HIGHWAY OFFICIALS WAS CLEAR TO DRIVERS, SLOW DOWN BECAUSE STATE TOORPS ARE TURNING UP THE HEAT ON SPEEDERS. LET'S TAKE A LOOK. HEAT OFFICIALS CALL THE TREND DISTURBING. IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF 2012, TWICE AS MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED ON VERMONT ROADS COMPARED TO LAST YEAR.

>> OUR STATISTICS HERE IN VERMONT THIS YEAR ARE REALLY ABYSMAL.

>> DMV COMMISSIONER ROB EID SAYS 42 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED IN CRASHES THIS YEAR, FIVE ON INTERSTATES, 11 ON U.S. ROUTES, AND 26 ON SECONDARY ROADS. POLICE SAY JANUARY HAS BEEN THE DEADLIEST MONTH. SUNDAY THE DEADLIEST DAY, AND 8:00 P.M. TO 2:00 A.M., THE DEADLIEST HOURS. HIGHWAY OFFICIALS SAY THESE STATISTICS AR STAGGERING BLOW -- ARE A STAGGERING BLOW SINCE COUNTING 2011 AS ONE OF VERMONT'S SAFEST DRIVING YEARS ON RECORD.

>> THIS YEAR TOLD US THAT LAST YEAR WAS THE ANOMALY. THIS YEAR WE ARE BACK ON TRACK TO MIRROR THE STATISTICS OF PREVIOUS YEARS.

>> FLIS SAY HALF OF THE 42 VICTIMS WERE NOT WEARING SEATBELTS, A THIRD OF THE DRIVERS WERE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS, AND A QUARTER OF THE FATAL CRASHES WERE CAUSED BY EXCESSIVE SPEED.

>> FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO THINK THERE'S A SPEED TOLERANCE IN VERMONT, TIME TO RECONSIDER. THERE WAS A DIRECTIVE THAT WENT OUT FROM MY OFFICE TODAY TO THE STATE TROOPERS.

>> OVER THE NEXT 60 DAYS, STATE AND LOCAL POLICE ARE TEAMING UP TO CRACK DOWN ON SPEEDERS. TRAVELING EVEN ONE MILE PER HOUR OVER THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT WILL MAKE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR A TICKET.

>> WAS THERE A TOLERANCE FOR SPEED BEFORE THIS DIRECTIVE?

>> I THINK PROBABLY. I THINK EVERY OFFICER PROBABLY HAS THEIR OWN TOLERANCE, BUT NOW THE TOLERANCE IS THE ONE THAT'S POSTED ON THE SPEED LIMIT SIGNS.

>> FOR THE REST OF THE SUMMER, POLICEMAN TO SET UP SPEED TRAPS IN EVERY CORNER OF THE STATE, WHICH MEANS MANY MORE DRIVERS WILL BE TICKETED FOR PUSHING THE LIMIT. POLICE SAY THEY WILL ALSO USE THE STOPS TO CHECK FOR SEATBELTS. THE STATE HAS AN 85% COMPLIANCE RATE.

>> PLEASE, IF YOU KNOW ANYBODY THAT DOESN'T WEAR THEIR SEATBELT, JUST BEAT THEM TO WEAR THE SEATBELT OR DO SOMETHING BECAUSE 90,000 PEOPLE DON'T WEAR THEIR SEATBELTS. IF THEY DID, I DON'T THINK WIELD HAVE 42 FATALITIES SLOW FAR.

>> BUCKLING UP AND SLOWING DOWN, TWO OF THE EASIEST WAYS TO SAVE LIVES. JENNIFER READING, CHANNEL 3 NEWS, WATERBURY.

>> SO THE DMV COMMISSIONER CALLS THE STATS THIS YEAR ABYSMAL. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THIS TREND?

>> THEY ARE ABYSMAL AND DISAPPOINTING AFTER THE SUCCESS WE HAD LAST YEAR. IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT NUMBERS, THE FATALITIES ARE THE LOWEST SINCE WORLD WAR II. THIS YEAR, WE HAVE A TERRIBLE JANUARY AND I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER THAT EVERY ONE OF THOSE NUMBERS REPRESENTS A TRAGEDY IN A FAMILY THAT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AFTER LOSING THEIR LOVED ONES, SO WE CONTINUE UP UNTIL THIS POINT NOW, WHICH IS MID YEAR, WE TOOK A LOOK BACK AND WE SAID YOU KNOW WHAT? WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. WE HAVE TO DEVISE A STRANGE THAT MAYBE THE ONE THING THAT WE CAN DO THAT'S COMMON IN MOST OF THE CRASHES IS SPEED. SO WE WERE LOOKING REALLY TO ASK PEOPLE TO USE COMMON SENSE, OBEY THE POSTED LAW, AND TO DRIVE IN CONDITIONS THAT THEY USE GOOD SOUND JUDGMENT.

>> NOW, YOU MENTIONED THAT LAST YEAR WAS SO SUCCESSFUL IN TERMS OF KEEPING DRIVERS SAFE. WHAT CHANGED THIS YEAR? CAN YOU GUYS PINPOINT ANYTHING SPECIFICALLY THAT'S DIFFERENT? OR WAS LAST YEAR AN ANOMALY.

>> I THINK SOME OF IT WAS ANOMALY. WHEN WE LOOK AT THE TRENDS IN THE PAST, WE'VE MADE SOME GREAT STRIDES IN THE LAST DECADE, FOR EXAMPLE. WE'VE KEPT OUR FATALITIES HERE IN VERMONT WELL BELOW 100 AND IF YOU GO BACK, BACK IN THE '90s, WE HAD SEVERAL YEARS WHERE WE WERE ABOVE 100 FATALITIES IN THE STATE. SO YOU HAVE TO LOOK, REALLY, AT A LOT OF THINGS THERE. YOU KNOW, SOME OF OUR LAWS THAT HAVE PASSED THAT HAVE ENHANCED TRAFFIC SAFETY AS WELL AS VEHICLES THAT ARE ON THE ROAD TODAY, MAKING THEM SAFER. MILES TRAVELED, REALLY MILES TRAVELED ON OUR ROADS REALLY HAVEN'T CHANGED THAT MUCH OVER THE PAST COUPLE YEARS, EVEN DESPITE INCREASING FUEL COSTS. SO BETWEEN LAST YEAR AND THIS YEAR, WE HAVEN'T REALLY SEEN TOO MUCH CHANGE IN THAT, EVEN OUR ENFORCEMENT PRACTICES HAVEN'T CHANGED DRAMATICALLY. SO OVERALL CRASHES, IF WE LOOK AT INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE CRASHES RIGHT NOW, WE'RE LOOKING AT ABOUT, PROBABLY ON THE SAME FACE AS WE WERE LAST YEAR -- FACE AS WE WERE LAST YEAR, BUT CERTAINLY THE MYSTERY IS THE FATALITIES, WHY SUCH A DIFFERENCE FROM LAST YEAR. THEY'RE SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE STATE. THE CONTRIBUTING CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THOSE CRASHES, THERE ARE COMMON THEMES SUCH AS IMPAIRED DRIVING, PERSONS NOT WEARING OR UTILIZING SEATBELTS AS WELL AS PEOPLE DRIVING AGGRESSIVELY OR HIGH SPEEDS. SO THOSE ARE REALLY THE -- THOSE THREE ARE REALLY THINGS WE'RE TRYING TO KEY ON AND UNFORTUNATELY, WHEN YOU GET THOSE THINGS, ESPECIALLY THREE OF THEM TOGETHER, THOSE ARE WHEN YOU SEE THESE DEADLY CRASHES.

>> NOW, A FEW YEARS AGO, 2006, YOU WERE SAYING EARLIER THAT YOU SAW THIS KIND OF UPTICK BEFORE AND COMING OUT AND SAYING WE'RE GOING TO CRACK DOWN ON SPEEDERS SEEMS TO WORK.

>> YES. THE NUMBERS ARE A LITTLE DIFFERENT, BUT THE COMPARISON BETWEEN 2005 AND 2006, WE WERE TRENDING FOR TWICE THE AMOUNT OF FATALITIES IN 2006 THAN WE HAD IN 2005, SO THE SITUATION IS PRETTY SIMILAR. AS A MATTER OF FACT, BACK IN 2006, WE WERE TRENDING TO GO TO 120 FATALITIES FOR THE WHOLE YEAR AND THE COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC SAFETY AT THAT TIME DID COME OUT AND HE ASKED THE STATE POLICE IF THEY WOULD FOCUS ON SPEEDERS AND I CAN TELL YOU, IT WORKED. AT THE END OF THE YEAR -- UNFORTUNATELY, THERE WAS 87 PEOPLE KILLED, BUT THAT'S BETTER THAN 110, 120.

>> NOW WE HAVE THIS PROGRAM CALLED HEAT. IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN TO US, WHAT DOES THE ACRONYM STAND FOR AND HOW IS THIS PROGRAM GOING TO STAND FOR?

>> HEAT IS ACTUALLY HIGH ENFORCEMENT AREA TEAMS. AND THE PREMISE OF THIS IS THAT WE'RE BASING THIS ON CRASH DATA, OVERALL CRASH DATA, AND WE'RE SPECIFICALLY LOOKING AT SOME OF THE TRENDS THAT WE SAW DURING THE LAST TWO YEARS OF CRASHES OVERALL, TO TRY TO FIND THOSE PLACES WHERE WE'RE SEEING OUR HIGHEST CRASH RATES. SOME OF OUR MORE DANGEROUS ROADS OUT THERE THAT ARE PRODUCING THOSE HIGHER CRASHES. SO NOT JUST THE FATALITIES, BUT CRASHES OVERALL. AND THOSE ARE AREAS WE'RE GOING TO FOCUS ON AND WE'RE GOING TO SEND TEAMS IN ALL DIFFERENT AREAS ACROSS THE STATE, USING FOUR DIFFERENT REGIONS, TEAMS OF USUALLY AT LEAST FOUR OFFICERS, AND IT'S NOT JUST STATE POLICE. IT'S LOCAL AND OTHER STATE AND COUNTY AGENCIES THAT ARE GOING TO BE INVOLVED IN THIS INITIATIVE. AND WE ARE GOING TO, FOR THOSE 63 DAYS, WE'RE GOING TO BE FOCUSSING ON THOSE AREAS, HIGH VISIBILITY ENFORCEMENT AND WE'RE REALLY TRYING TO PUSH THIS MESSAGE ABOUT PEOPLE SLOWING DOWN, DRIVING SAFELY, AND WE'RE HOPING THAT WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. WE SAW THIS COME UP, WE DIDN'T SEE THAT WE WERE GOING TO HAVE THIS SPIKE IN FATALITIES, SO WE'RE REACTING TO THIS PROBLEM.

>> NOW, EARLIER IN WEEK, GOVERNOR SHUMLIN REACTED TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THIS PROGRAM WAS LAUNCHING AND HE SAID -- HE HAD SOME CRITICISM ABOUT THE PROGRAM AND HOW IT WAS ANNOUNCED. LET'S TAKE A LISTEN TO WHAT HE HAD TO SAY.

>> I THINK THERE'S LITTLE RATIONAL EXUBERANCE IN OUR COMMITMENT TO MAKE VERMONT ROADS SAFER. THE COMMISSIONER IS DOING AN EXTRAORDINARY JOB, BUT OBVIOUSLY IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO USE OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO TICKET PEOPLE FOR GOING ONE MILE OVER THE SPEED LIMIT. OBVIOUSLY WE WON'T BE DOING THAT, WE'LL BE USING COMMON SENSE, BUT SAFETY MUST BE OUR COMMITMENT.

>> SO EVERYONE IS ON THE SAME PAGE NOW?

>> YES. ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY IS ON THE SAME PAGE AND I TELL YOU, THE SUPPORTIVE THINGS TO SAVE LIVES, A TRUE MEASURE OF ANY TRAFFIC SAFETY PROGRAM IS TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF CRASHES AND INJURIES. MY DREAM WOULD BE IF NO TICKETS WERE ISSUED. THAT WOULD MEAN NOBODY WAS SPEEDING, SO IT'S NOT A MEASUREMENT OF OUTPUTS, IT'S A MEASUREMENT OF OUTCOMES AND WE'RE HOPING TO HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS AND GOOD OUTCOMES.

>> WELL, HOW FAST IS TOO FAST?

>> YOU TELL ME HOW FAST IS TOO FAST.

>> ACCORDING TO THE COMMISSIONER, IT'S ANYTHING OVER THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT.

>> I THINK COMMON SENSE SHOULD REAL PREVAIL AND DICK STATE. I MEAN -- AND DICTATE. THERE'S A LOT OF INGREDIENTS GOING IN WHEN YOU ASK THE QUESTION HOW FAST IS TOO FAST. I'M TALKING ABOUT CONDITIONS, WEATHER, HOW FAR YOU CAN SEE, THE CONDITION OF YOUR CAR. HOPEFULLY IT'S IN GOOD SHAPE. YOUR TIRES, THE WINDSHIELD WIPERS, THE BRAKES, EVERYTHING IS INVOLVED. SO THERE IS NO CARTE BLANCHE ANSWER FOR HOW FAST IS TOO FAST.

>> WE'RE GOING TO TALK MORE ABOUT THIS IN JUST

>>> WELCOME BACK. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT A STATEWIDE CRACKDOWN ON SPEEDING. THIS WEEK, I GOT A CHANCE TO RIDE ALONG WITH STATE POLICE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS BEHIND THE SCENES ON THOSE TRAFFIC STOPS. IT'S MY FIRST TIME IN THE BACK OF A POLICE CRUISER. LUCKILY, THIS WAS MY IDEA. DAYS AFTER THE VERMONT STATE POLICE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY UNVEILED THEIR CONTROVERSIAL CRACKDOWN ON SPEEDERS STATEWIDE, WE DECIDED TO TAG ALONG WITH A TROOPER TO GET THE INSIDE SCOOP ON AGGRESSIVE DRIVING.

>> I'M GUESSING THEY'RE DOING ABOUT 70. AND THEY'RE DOING 74.

>> AND IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG TO CATCH OUR FIRST SPEEDER. TROOPER PAUL BADGER IS TRAINED TO ESTIMATE A VEHICLE'S SPEED VISUALLY, THEN VERIFY THAT GUESS WITH A LASER OR RADAR GUN. SO HOW FAST IS TOO FAST? THE 60-DAY SPEED CRACKDOWN CALLS FOR ZERO TOLERANCE OVER THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT. BUT BADGER SAYS HE AND HIS COLLEAGUES ON THE ROAD HAVE A MORE REASONABLE APPROACH.

>> IF YOU'RE DOING, YOU KNOW, 3 OR 5 OVER, YOU MAY JUST NOT BE PAYING ATTENTION.

>> BUT HE SAYS IF YOU'RE LIKE THIS GUY GOING 16 MILES PER HOUR OVER THE LIMIT, THAT'S INTENTIONAL AND DANGEROUS.

>> HE FINALLY PULLED OUT A U-TURN, NOTICED HE WAS SPEEDING, CLOCKED HIM AT 80 MILES PER HOUR.

>> 42 PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY DIED ON VERMONT'S ROADWAYS THIS YEAR, DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF DEATHS COMPARED TO THIS TIME LAST YEAR. POLICE SAY DISTRACTED DRIVING, FAILING TO BUCKLE UP, AND SPEED ALL FACTORED INTO THOSE TRAGEDIES. BADGER SAYS TICKETS ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO CHANGE PEOPLE'S DRIVING HABITS.

>> PULLING OUT, HE JUST -- OKAY?

>> WHAT PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE IS THAT FAILING TO MOVE OVER FOR THESE EMERGENCY VEHICLES IS SO DANGEROUS THAT IT COMES WITH A $243 FINE AND FIVE POINTS ON YOUR LICENSE. TRAFFIC STOPS OFTEN OCCUR ON ROADWAY SHOULDERS, LEAVING LITTLE ROOM WITH TRAFFIC. BADGER SAYS IF IT'S TOO TIGHT, HE WILL APPROACH THE PASSENGER SIDE, BUT HE PREFERS TO GET CLOSE TO THE DRIVER.

>> I HIKE TO BE UP FRONT TALKING TO THE OPERATOR, GET MY NOSE IN THE WINDOW TO SMELL ALCOHOL OR WHATEVER MAY BE GOING ON.

>> BUT WHAT HE TRIES NOT TO DO IS HIDE. HE SAYS HE PREFERS TO BE IN PLAIN SIGHT WHERE DRIVERS CAN SEE HIM. BEFORE THE RIDE-ALONG WAS OVER, I GOT ONE LAST LESSON IN LASER TECHNOLOGY.

>> SHOOT WITH THE TRIGGER, IT'S LIKE A GUN, AND YOU LITERALLY POINT IT AT YOUR TARGET.

>> IT'S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS.

>> YOU MISSED THAT.

>> ONCE I GOT OUT OF THE CRUISER, MY PERFORMANCE IMPROVED.

>> SHOOT THE RIDGE LINE, SO, YEAH, 66.

>> THE LASER LOCKED IN ON THE VEHICLE, GIVING US ITS SPEED AND DISTANCE FROM THE GUN. BADGER SAYS THE MORE DETAIL HE CAN PROVIDE ON THE TICKET, THE BETTER IT WILL HOLD UP IN COURT.

>> SO THIS HEAT INITIATIVE IS LASTING THE NEXT 60 DAYS. IF YOU CAN TALK ABOUT THAT, TROOPER BADGER WAS SAYING TO ME THAT THIS IS JUST PART OF HIS EVERYDAY ROUTINE, BUT IT'S PART OF THE HEAT INITIATIVE, THERE'S ACTUALLY GOING TO BE TEAMS OF FOLKS, A MIX OF STATE AND LOCAL POLICE. HOW THAT IS GOING TO WORK? ARE THEY GOING TO BE PULLED FROM OTHER DUTIES? IS THIS OVERTIME DETAIL?

>> REALLY A COMBINATION OF THINGS. THERE'S AGENCIES THAT HAVE ALL BEEN INVITED TO COME IN TO WORK THIS COLLABORATIVE EFFORT AS A TEAM, SO WE'RE GOING TO BE PULLING SOME PEOPLE OFF, IF WE CAN, FOR SHIFTS AND OBVIOUSLY THERE'S A LOT OF AGENCIES OUT THERE THAT ARE SHORTHANDED, THAT MAY NOT BE ABLE TO DEDICATE SOMEONE FULL-TIME TO DOING ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES SUCH AS THE HEAT TEAMS. BUT WE'RE GOING TO INVITE THEM IN TO WORK WITH US. SOME OF THEM WILL COME AS AN EXTRA DUTY, AND THEY WILL BE PAID AN OVERTIME RATE TO COME OUT AND DO IT, DO THIS HIGH VISIBILITY ENFORCEMENT EFFORT. JUST QUICKLY, YOU KNOW, BASED ON YOUR VIDEO, WE'RE TRYING TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR OUT THERE AND I THINK WE'RE VERY FORTUNATE IN VERMONT THAT WE HAVE A GROUP OF VERY GOOD PROFESSIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS THAT WEIGH REASONABLENESS AND DISCRETION AND VERY WELL AND EVERY STOP ITSELF, THERE'S ALWAYS A DIFFERENT SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES. THOSE THINGS ARE ALL WEIGHED TOGETHER AND THEY DECIDE WHAT'S THE BEST OUTCOME DEPENDING ON THOSE THINGS, WHETHER SOMEONE IS GOING TO BE GIVEN A WARNING OR SOMEONE IS GOING TO BE GIVEN A VIOLATION FOR THE OFFENSE.

>> SO DURING THIS HEAT INITIATIVE, I MEAN, THAT'S JUST SORT OF WHAT THE DISPUTE WAS ABOUT EARLIER IN THE WEEK. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE TROOPER'S DISCRETION, IS THERE A 10-MILE-A-HOUR OVER THE LIMIT DISCRETION TYPICALLY? PEOPLE WALK AROUND SAYING, YEAH, YEAH, YOU CAN GO 75 IN A 65 AND THEY WILL PULL YOU OVER.

>> THERE'S ALWAYS DISCRETION AND IT CERTAINLY DEPENDS ON THE OFFICER AND THE VEHICLE, AND IT'S WEIGHED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES, WHAT THE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE OUT THERE, WHAT TRAFFIC IS LIKE, WHAT OTHER THINGS THAT THE DRIVER MAY HAVE DONE BEFORE THEN OR AFTER THEY SAW THE DRIVER GOING THAT FAST, SO THOSE ARE ALL THINGS THAT ARE WEIGHED OUT BUT THE BEST THING IS THAT SPEED LIMITS ARE SET BY SPEED STUDY AND BASED ON SPEED THAT A VEHICLE CAN TRAVEL SAFELY, AND THAT'S BASICALLY ON CLEAR, DRY ROAD CONDITIONS. SO THAT REALLY IS, WE SHOULD BE TRYING TO GO AS CLOSE AS WE CAN DURING THAT SPEED LIMIT.

>> DURING THE HEAT INITIATIVE, THAT IS TOLERANCE LEVEL GOING TO BE CLOSER TO THE SPEED LIMIT THAN IT TYPICALLY WOULD BE?

>> WE ARE NOT GOING TO TAKE AWAY THE DISCRETION FROM OUR OFFICERS, BUT WE ALSO AND THE TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT WE ARE OUT THERE TO SAVE LIVES AND TO REDUCE CRASHES, AND WE'RE MAKING THIS A PRIORITY.

>> SINCE REPORTING THIS STORY, ONE OF THE CRITICISM WE'VE HEARD FROM A LOT OF VIEWERS, THEY SAY THE BIGGEST CONCERN IS NOT NECESSARILY THE FOLKS WHO ARE GOING 75 ON THE INTERSTATE. IT'S THOSE PICKING UP THE CELL PHONE.

>> BIG HUGE PROBLEM, AND THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION FOR THE LAST FOUR OR FIVE YEARS RECOGNIZES IT. IT PUTS IT UP THERE WITH IMPAIRED DRIVING AS FAR AS DANGER BEHAVIOR. IT KILLS ABOUT 3,000 PEOPLE A YEAR, AND WE DO NOTE THAT 60% OF ALL YOUNG DRIVERS KILLED ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE INVOLVED IN DISTRACTED DRIVING. NOT JUST CELL PHONE USE. I MEAN, YOU SEE IT EVERY DAY, NOT JUST THE INTERSTATE EITHER. YOU SEE IT ON LOCAL ROADWAYS. WE HAVE A GOOD LAW AGAINST TEXTING. IF YOU'RE TEXTING, IF YOU TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE ROAD TO ANSWER A CELL PHONE, THAT CAN BE FOR AS MANY AS FOUR AND A HALF SECONDS. FOUR AND A HALF SECONDS AT 55 MILES AN HOUR, YOU CAN TRAVEL THE LENGTH OF A FOOTBALL FIELD BLIND. SO A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN 100 YARDS. SO IT'S A BIG PROBLEM, ITS RECOGNIZED BY NTHSA. THEY HAD TWO PILOTS DOWN IN CONNECTICUT, ONE, AND THE OTHER IN SYRACUSE, NEW YORK, AND IT WAS REALLY AIDED BY EDUCATING THE PUBLIC AND THAT'S WHAT'S NEEDED. AS LONG AS WE CAN CONTINUE TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC AND BE OUT THERE ENFORCING THE LAW, I THINK WE'LL MAKE PROGRESS.

>> YOU MENTIONED VERMONT HAS A GOOD TEXTING LAW, BUT HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT TO ACTUALLY ENFORCE?

>> IT CERTAINLY HAS SOME CHALLENGES. WE'VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL AND THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF VIOLATIONS ISSUED FOR TEXTING. BUT PART OF THAT, REALLY, IS TO EDUCATE PEOPLE. WE DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO TEXT, BUT I THINK KNOWING THAT THERE'S A LAW AND SORT OF A GENERAL DETERRENCE OUT THERE, THAT THEY KNOW THAT IT'S AGAINST THE LAW TO TEXT, I THINK FOR SOME PEOPLE, THAT'S ENOUGH. OBVIOUSLY, WE STILL UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT ARE VIOLATING THE TEXTING LAW OUT THERE. SO IT SOMETIMES IS DIFFICULT TO BE IN A POSITION TO ENFORCE IT, TO ACTUALLY SEE IT GOING ON, BUT I THINK THE EDUCATION PART OF THAT AND THE LAW ITSELF AS A DETERRENCE HELPS TREMENDOUSLY.

>> WHAT'S IT LIKE AS A TROOPER OUT THERE ON THE ROAD TRYING TO ENFORCE THESE LAWS?

>> WELL, THERE'S A PRETTY BIG BOOK, THAT'S THE MOTOR VEHICLE LAWS, SO THERE'S A LOT TO KNOW IN THERE AND THERE'S OBVIOUSLY THINGS THAT ARE VERY COMMON. THERE'S SOME THINGS THAT ARE UNCOMMON. BUT, YOU KNOW, I THINK BEING OUT THERE ON THE HIGHWAY AND ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU GET INTO SOME OF THE MAJOR MOTOR VEHICLE VIOLATIONS, IT COMES DOWN TO THERE'S A SMALL POPULATION OF OUR MOTORING PUBLIC THAT ARE SERIOUS PROBLEMS, SO THERE'S A LOT OF CHANGES, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO IMPAIRED DRIVING. WE HAVE MADE A LOT OF ARRESTS, LAW ENFORCEMENT OVERALL OVER THE YEARS. IT IS A BIG FACTOR IN THE CRASHES THAT WE SEE AND THOSE ARE SOME LAWS THAT ARE CHANGING ALL THE TIME. EITHER BY CASE LAW OR LEGISLATIVELY, AND ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS DO IS, AS YOU KNOW, WE'RE SEEING A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE AND THAT'S SORT OF SPILLING OVER TO OUR HIGHWAYS AS WELL, SO WE'RE DEALING WITH, YOU KNOW, MORE DRIVERS WHO ARE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A DRUG AND MOST COMMONLY NOT JUST ILLICIT DRUGS, BUT PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, AND WE HAVE 28 HIGHLY TRAINED DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERTS ACROSS THE STATE THAT ARE HELPING US TO IDENTIFY THOSE FOLKS THAT WE BELIEVE ARE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A DRUG AND TO GET THEM OFF THE ROAD AND CERTAINLY GET THEM INTO TREATMENT.

>> EXPLAIN WHY THAT'S DIFFICULT FOR TROOPERS. TO SPOT.

>> WELL, I MEAN, THE WHOLE ISSUE AS FAR AS BEING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A DRUG, NOW, IS OBVIOUSLY -- ENFORCEMENT HAS BEEN TRAINED OVER THE YEARS TO DEAL WITH ALCOHOL, SO A PERSON THAT'S UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A DRUG MAY NOT SHOW THE COMMON SIGNS THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT OR EVEN THE PUBLIC AT LARGE SEE AS FAR AS IN THE IMPAIRMENT. SO IF DRUGS COULD AFFECT A PERSON IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS, AND HOW THAT PERSON SHOWS OUTWARD SIGNS OF IMPAIRMENT, HOW THEY PRESENT, CERTAINLY WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT HAVE THAT EXPERTISE TO BE ABLE TO IDENTIFY THAT.

>> LET'S TALK ABOUT A DIFFERENT PART OF SAFETY AND THE TROOPER IN THAT STORY MENTIONED IT. SAFETY FOR YOURSELF AND THE PERSON WHO'S BEING PULLED OVER. I NOTICED WHEN I WAS IN THE CAR OR IN THE CRUISER, TONS OF DRIVERS DID NOT MOVE OVER TO THAT OTHER LANE UNTIL THE SECOND BEFORE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW DANGEROUS IT IS FOR TROOPERS TO MAKE THESE INTERSTATE STOPS?

>> THERE'S CERTAINLY RISKS. THERE'S HIGH RISKS OUT THERE AND THE SHOULDERS ARE NARROW. WE TRY TO GET PEOPLE OFF AS FAR OVER AS WE CAN, AND THE THING WE TRY TO DO IS, YOU KNOW, WE CONTROL THE STOP OF WHERE THEY'RE STOPPING AND IF THEY DON'T STOP SOMEWHERE THAT'S A SAFE LOCATION, WE MOVE THEM ON TO A SAFER LOCATION THAT'S SAFE FOR THEM, SAFE FOR US, AS WELL AS SAFE FOR THE APPROACHING TRAFFIC. MOST OF THE INTERSTATE STOPS THAT WE DO, WE DO DO A PASSENGER-SIDE APPROACH ON JUST BECAUSE WE FEEL SAFER OVER THERE TOO AND A LOT OF MOTORING PUBLIC DOESN'T EXPECT US, EVEN THOUGH WE'VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS, TO COME UP ON THAT SIDE, SO IT'S SAFE, IT'S AN OVERALL SAFER APPROACH FOR US, BUT THERE'S CERTAINLY SOME RISKS OUT THERE, BUT WE TRY TO MINIMIZE THE RISKS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

>> SO IT SOUNDS LIKE WE ARE MAKING STRIDES AS A STATE. HOW DOES VERMONT COMPARE TO SOME OF OUR NEIGHBORS WITH OUR HIGHWAY FATALITIES?

>> I THINK IN SIX STATES, WE'RE EXPERIENCING THE SAME SORT OF UPTICK. THE SAME SORT OF INCREASED FATALITIES AND SAME SORT OF UNBELTED EJECTIONS, AND JUST, YOU KNOW, THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING OUT THERE THAT HAVEN'T HAPPENED BEFORE. PART OF IT IS DISTRACTION, BUT IF YOU TAKE A LOOK AT OUR SEATBELT RATES HERE IN THE STATE OF VERMONT, IT'S AT 85% AND THAT'S BASICALLY BEEN AT 85% OR WAS AT 85% BACK IN 2001, SO HERE IT IS 11 YEARS LATER AND WE'RE AT 85%. BACK IN 2001, THE REST OF THE COUNTRY WAS AT 75%, WE'RE ACTUALLY LEADERS IN THE COUNTRY. WE WERE TEN PERCENTAGE POINTS AHEAD OF THE REST OF THE NATION. NOW WE'RE JUST EVEN WITH THE REST OF THE NATION, SO WE'D LIKE TO REACH OUT FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO DON'T WEAR THEIR SEATBELT AND JUST ASK THEM WHY. WHY DON'T YOU WEAR YOUR SEATBELT? IT'S THE EASIEST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU GET INTO THE CAR IS TO CLICK THAT SEATBELT ON. THE STATE OF NEW YORK WAS THE FIRST SEATBELT LAW BACK IN 1984. PRIMARY SEATBELT LAW. VERMONT'S SEATBELT LAW AS ENACTED IN 1994, SO WE STARTED TEN YEARS BEHIND THE STATE OF NEW YORK. WE'D LIKE TO CATCH UP. WE'D LIKE TO HIT 100% IF POSSIBLE. I'D SETTLE FOR ABOUT 90 THIS YEAR, SO WE'RE HOPING OUR CLICK IT AND TICKET PROGRAM THAT JUST ENDED WILL SHOW SOME SUCCESS AND SHOW SOME PROGRESS.

>> WHAT ARE THE STUMBLING BLOCKS TO GETTING MORE PEOPLE TO CLICK THEIR SEATBELT?

>> I THINK IT'S PERSONAL CHOICE. I WOULD SAY IT'S YOUR PERSONAL CHOICE, BUT IT AFFECTS EVERYBODY ELSE ON THE ROAD. IF YOU'RE NOT BELTED, YOU'RE NOT SECURE IN YOUR CAR. IF YOU'RE NOT SECURE IN YOUR CAR, YOU DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO FULLY FUNCTIONALLY OPERATE IT.

>> AT THE END OF 60 DAYS, WHAT WOULD SUCCESS LOOK LIKE TO YOU GUYS?

>> TO ME, IF THERE WAS NO TICKETS ISSUED, IT WOULD MEAN THAT EVERYBODY WAS COMPLYING WITH SPEED LIMITS AND EVERYBODY WAS BUCKLED UP, AND THERE WAS NO NOBODY DRIVING WHEN THEY WERE IMPAIRED. THAT WOULD BE NIRVANA FOR ME.

>> WE ALREADY KNOW THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THE FIRST DAY THE INITIATIVE, I THINK TWO SPEEDERS WERE CAUGHT, CLOSE OR OVER TO 100 MILES PER HOUR, SO WE'RE TALKING ABOUT GROSS VIOLATION OF THE LAW THERE.

>> YEAH, AND TO ME, I THINK SUCCESS WOULD BE NOT HOW MANY TICKETS ARE WRITTEN OR HOW MANY CONTACTS, BUT SEEING SORT OF A REVERSE OF WHERE WE'RE HEADING WITH FATALITIES, ROLLING THAT NUMBER BACK. MAYBE HAVING NONE BETWEEN NOW AND THEN WOULD BE GREAT. I THINK IT'S VERY SLIM THAT THAT'S GOING TO OCCURRING BUT I REALLY THINK THAT SHOULD BE WHAT WE'RE STRIVING FOR AND OUR GOAL IS TOWARDS ZERO DEATHS. SO IF WE CAN SAY THAT WE'VE REDUCED OVERALL CRASHES AND SAVED ONE OR TWO LIVES, I THINK IT'S CERTAINLY WORTH IT.

>> JENNIFER JUST MENTIONED THE TWO TICKETS FOR OVER 100 MILES AN HOUR, AND IT SEEMS LIKE IN THE NEWS, IT'S MORE AND MORE OFTEN WE'RE SEEING THESE SORT OF GROSS VIOLATIONS. IS THAT REFLECTED IN THE ACTUAL NUMBERS OR IS THAT JUST ANECDOTAL, WHAT WE'RE NOTICING ON THE NEWS?

>> WE'VE HAD SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT, WHETHER WE'RE SEEING HIGHER SPEEDS OUT THERE. WE'VE LOOKED AT SOME DATA. I REALLY CAN'T SEE THAT WE'VE SEEN A DIFFERENCE. IT'S PRETTY MUCH THE WAY IT'S BEEN THE LAST FEW YEARS, ESPECIALLY WITH SOME OF THOSE EXCESSIVE SPEED THAT THEY HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH, YOU KNOW, 100-PLUS-MILE-PER-HOUR THAT WE SEE SOMETIMES ON THE INTERSTATES, SO THAT HASN'T CHANGED, BUT THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT WE'RE OUT THERE LOOKING FOR BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT ARE THE VERY DANGEROUS, AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS. SO I THINK THIS OPERATION IS HOPEFULLY GOING TO MAKE SOME IMPACT ON THOSE DRIVERS.

>> LAST WEEK, I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I HAVE NOTICED AN INCREASED PRESENCE ON THE INTERSTATES OF PARTICULARLY TROOPERS, BUT AS WE SAW IN THOSE NUMBERS, ONLY FIVE OF THESE FATALITIES OCCURRED IN INTERSTATES. THE MAJORITY OF THEM WERE ON U.S. ROUTES AND SECONDARY ROADS. HOW IS ENFORCEMENT GOING TO BE ON THOSE ROADS AS WELL?

>> YOU WILL SEE A PRESENCE ON THOSE ROADS, PARTICULARLY THE U.S. AND MORE SO THE VERMONT ROUTES OUT THERE. I THINK IF YOU LOOK AT THE INTERSTATE CRASHES COMBINED WITH THE U.S. ROUTES AND VERMONT HIGHWAYS, I THINK THAT'S THE MAJORITY OF THE FATALITIES THAT WE'RE SEEING. SO WE ARE LOOKING AT THOSE BY COUNTY AND BY REGION, THOSE AREAS WHERE WE'VE SEEN SPECIFIC SPIKES IN CRASHES, AND THOSE ARE THE AREAS THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE IN.

>> THOSE STATS ALSO TALKED ABOUT SUNDAY AFTER 8:00 P.M. BEING THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHY THAT ISES?

>> NO, BUT SO FAR IT IS SUNDAY AND IT IS AFTER 8:00 P.M., SO I DON'T KNOW. THERE'S ANOTHER MYSTERY. IF WE HAD TO ANSWER AS TO WHY THIS IS HAPPENING, THEN WE'D BE ABLE TO MARTIAL ALL OUR FORCES AND FOR ONE PARTICULAR REASON. WE'RE SPREAD PRETTY THIN, BUT WE'RE USING SCIENCE AND DATA TO DRIVE US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. THESE ARE NOT SPEED TRAPS. THESE ARE -- THEY'RE LOCATIONS WHICH ARE EXPERIENCING HIGH INCIDENCE OF CRASHES, HIGH-SPEED CRASHES. THEY HAVE HAD CRASHES THERE OR THEY HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO HAVE CRASHES THERE, SO THAT'S SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT.

>> JUST ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT. WHAT IS YOUR LAST, MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO VERMONT DRIVERS?

>> TAKE YOUR TIME TO FOCUS ON SAFE DRIVING WHEN YOU'RE ON THE ROAD. FORGET THE OTHER DISTRACTIONS, BUT FOCUS ON SAFE DRIVING.

>> GOOD MESSAGE. LT. JOHN FLANNIGAN AND TED MINALL FROM THE GOVERNOR'S HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM, THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US. JEN, THANK YOU, AND THANKS FOR BEING HERE, EVERYONE. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY.

>> THANK YOU. IS IT SUNDAY ALREADY? CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY. CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC www.captionassociates.com

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