2012 began with a deadly trend; there were four fatal crashes in the first four days of the year. Six months in, twice as many people were dead compared to the year before.
"Our statistics here in Vermont this year are really abysmal," Vt. DMV Commissioner Rob Ide said in July 2012.
Luckily, the trend leveled, but not before 75 people lost their lives in deadly crashes. There were five double fatalities and one triple fatality.
"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Vermonters of virtually all ages," said Dr. Harry Chen, the Vermont health commissioner.
The number of deaths is up 32 percent from last year. But keep in mind 2011 had the lowest fatality rate since 1944. This year's rate is in line with the state's 10-year average. State officials admit it's impossible to stop all crashes, but the goal is to lower the number of preventable deaths. Twenty-eight of this year's fatalities were linked to speeding.
"Nothing slows down traffic like seeing a trooper in the U-turn," Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said.
Then there's impaired driving. Sixty percent of the fatals this year involved drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Two high profile cases involved drivers huffing chemicals behind the wheel. And authorities say Jason Potvin had bath salts in his system when he lost control of his car on Interstate 89, killing himself, his girlfriend and their 8-month-old child.
"We need to increase our enforcement efforts. We need to increase the ability of our prosecutors to prosecute these cases successfully," Flynn said.
Change is coming. Vermont got its first drunk driving murder conviction this year after Timothy Dowd pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for his role in a crash that killed Dealer.com employee Kaye Borneman.
"The message is going to be loud and clear to the rest of Vermont: When you drink and drive under these circumstances, we're going to call it what it is-- murder," Chittenden County Prosecutor T.J. Donovan said in January 2012.
But officials say the easiest way to stay safe on the road is to take the proper precautions. In all four motorcycle fatalities, the riders were not wearing DOT-approved helmets. And 44 percent of the people who died on Vermont's roads this year were not wearing seat belts.
"To the 85 percent of Vermonters who wear their seat belt every day, I'd like to say thank you so much. But to the 15 percent that don't wear and don't get it, I'm going to tell you you're selfish," said Ted Minhall of the Governor's Highway Safety Program.
Distracted driving-- namely cellphone use-- is another area of concern for state officials, especially among the state's youngest drivers. Chen says he would support a ban on cellphone use while driving.
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:29 PM EST2014-03-09 02:29:17 GMT
A warning for pet owners in our region. Coyotes are on the prowl. A biologist in New Hampshire says he has received more than 10 calls recently, in the Keene, New Hampshire area, for a deer that was takenMore >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:21 PM EST2014-03-09 02:21:44 GMT
As spring approaches, many Vermont homeowners prepare to work on their houses - so they head to the Burlington Home Show. And many Vermont small business owners - with their products and services on displayMore >>
Many business owners at the Burlington Home Show say the new health care system in Vermont is helpful, but some say it's causing a real headache.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
A rally at the State House in Montpelier Saturday. A passionate group of dozens of women, and men, assembled in front of the State House Saturday for the Women's March for Dignity. They were demandingMore >>
Women's March for Dignity say they are demanding lawmakers support paid sick day policies for all workers.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>