Speeders Beware: Police curb highway fatalities with traffic stops

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BENNINGTON - On Vermont Route 7 traveling north, one might find a large electronic sign across from the Manchester exit. It tallies the amount of deaths as a result of road crashes.

Prior to Thanksgiving, Bennington County Police officers patrolled Route 7 for speeding cars. Roughly 50 Vermont civil violation complaints were distributed on Nov. 23.

"We're trying to do reduce highway crashes," Lieutenant David Dutcher said.

According to the Vermont State Police website, there have been 51 vehicle crashes and 58 fatalities to date across the state. That's an increase from last year's 43 crashes and 48 fatalities.

Route 7 has a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, but most vehicles range between 56 to 68. On Nov. 23, drivers were caught going 20 and 30 miles over the legal limit, facing a ticket that costs upwards of $300 or more.

Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute states that increased speed limits are linked to highway fatalities. As a result, 33,000 lives were lost in the U.S. over two decades.

"Going over 100 [mph], you're just not safe," Dutcher said.

He explained that's why they patrol, to make the roads safe.

The Governors Highway Safety Association stated that with "strong laws, highly-visible law enforcement and robust public education campaigns," traffic deaths can be reduced. With those in practice, between 2005 and 2014, there was a 25 percent drop in fatalities.

"It [was] a busy travel day," Bennington County Police chief Paul Doucette said on Tuesday. "It's no different in Bennington than it is everywhere else. Our goal is to make sure people get to their destination safely."

For the next week police will take part in the National Highway Safety click-it-or-ticket campaign to "get everyone to abide by the law," Doucette said.

On Tuesday morning the police held a safety checkpoint on Benmont Avenue and issued about 11 violations.

Reach staff writer Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471 or @MC_McGeeney.


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