Modified 'Click it or Ticket' campaign kicks off

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) You may have noticed more cars on the roads and people speeding. Police say many drivers mistakenly believe they have relaxed enforcement during the pandemic. Authorities say that is not true, especially this Memorial Day weekend.

The annual "Click it or Ticket" campaign is kicking off Memorial Day weekend as the state's stay-at-home order eases. This year, police are focusing on aggressive, impaired and distracted driving as well as seat belts and speeding.

"We are going to step up and start putting more visibility to the highways and focus, especially with the nice weather this weekend. We are going to get into the back roads, the main routes and especially the lakes region," said Rutland County Sheriff's Dept. Lt. Kevin Geno.

When the pandemic began, police say there was a perception they would be letting up on traffic violations to lessen contact between officers and drivers. But for Memorial Day, weekend, officers will be out working together in groups.

"We know the restrictions are starting to relax a little, so people are wanting to get out and move around a little and it's gorgeous weather to do it. We just want to make sure they are safe," said Chittenden County Sheriffs Dept. Lt. Allen Fortin.

Many drivers told us they've noticed ore reckless drivers risking crashes and a possible visit to the ER. "In this time, you'd want people to be more cautious and careful to not overflow our health care system," said Anton Zhirkop of Chittenden.

"Definitely a lot of people are speeding, You see it on the highway. I go 65 and they're going by me like I'm standing still," said Kelley Maynar of Poultney.

The 2020 fatality rate of 10 is already double what it was last year at this time. Half of those victims were not wearing seat belts.

And since the coronavirus, police say they've seen a major increase in people using cell phones while driving and speeding. "People have that space on the highway that they normally don't have, where traffic may get backed up or be more clogged up, so to speak. Now they feel they can maneuver and speed," Lt. Geno said.

Authorities say safety means not only keeping drivers safe, but themselves as well. They'll all be wearing masks and only ask to handle documents if necessary.