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Vermont police crack down on distracted drivers

(WCAX)
Published: Apr. 11, 2019 at 8:07 AM EDT
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Hidden in the trees on Route 7, Ofc. Jim McNight of the Shelburne Police Department is high up spotting distracted drivers.

"There's a lot of heads down," he said. "Being elevated like this you can see right down into the car and see what they are doing."

When he sees a distracted driver, he radios it in and the crews on the road take over.

"They will be aggressive in enforcing the law in an effort to save lives," said Bill Jenkins with the State Highway Safety Program.

Thursday, state, local and county law enforcement teamed up to introduce their Connect to Disconnect campaign to stop distracted driving.

"The times for warnings are over," Vt. State Police Sgt. Jay Riggen said.

Over the next few days, there will be a higher enforcement push. They hope to connect with the public so people know to disconnect from their devices while driving.

"These law enforcement officers here, they don't want to give you a ticket. But to save you or someone else's life, they will," Jenkins said.

Officials say in 2017, 3,166 people died in distracted driving crashes in the country.

"That's 3,166 families and tragedies that are completely avoidable," said Ted Minall of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That's almost 10 people a day.

"If you are using your cellphone while you're driving, you're selfish," Minall said.

Some drivers WCAX News spoke with agree.

"It's frustrating when you see someone with their head down," said Leo Martineau of Orange.

"I always try to urge people to not do that because it's so unsafe," said Randee Eddins of Burlington.

Back on Shelburne Road, Ofc. McNight says even at a red light, don't pick up your phone or you could face a $230 ticket.

"Just because you are stopped at a red light-- you are still in the act of driving," he said.

A reminder from police to just drive.