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Police urge drivers to take safety seriously

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A spate of deadly crashes on Vermont roads this week has authorities appealing to the driving public to take safety seriously.

“It’s a concern of mine and the state police and law enforcement,” said Vermont State Police Col. Matthew Birmingham.

There have been 51 people who have died in crashes so far this year. Just in the last week, a crash in Sheldon killed a driver and passengers involved, and a crash in New Haven involved the death of a motorcyclist.

Data from the Agency of Transportation shows numbers this year are up slightly. But except for 2019 -- when looking at the last five years -- 51 is typical for this time of year.

“It’s a fatal crash if someone dies on our roadways as a result of the injuries they sustained in the crash. If somebody dies from a heart attack or something medically induced, that would not count as a fatal crash,” said Mandy White, who tracks the data for VTrans.

Col. Birmingham says reducing fatalities on the road takes more than just law enforcement. “We are out there every day trying to slow people down. I want to emphasize -- reducing highway traffic fatalities is a community problem. We have to talk about it, we have to educate, impress upon the people of wearing seatbelts, the importance of ensuring that drivers are not distracted with cell phones and other devices in the cars,” he said.

Pat Moody with AAA Northern New England says one campaign is working to do just that. “AAA’s don’t drive intoxicated is really a focus to get the otherwise responsible driver to realize how dangerous distracted driving is. It compares it to impaired driving. Those are 100% preventable. If we can just curb those two responsible driving things and really help pull that in line, we can save a lot of lives,” he said.

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