Vermont police step up patrols for Memorial Day holiday


BENNINGTON >> Police say they will be setting up safety checkpoints and increasing traffic patrols to coincide with Memorial Day weekend.

The Bennington Police Department announced Thursday that starting the week of May 30 it would be conducting a "safety checkpoint" somewhere in town.

"An aggressive effort will be made to identify impaired drivers and safety violations on our highways," police said in a release. "Officers will be enforcing seat belt, child restraint and other motor vehicle laws during this checkpoint."

Other police agencies will be conducting their own traffic safety operations as well. According to the Windham County Sheriff's Office, "high visibility patrols" and checkpoints will be part of its efforts this Memorial Day.

State Police will be working Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a national effort to lower the number of crashes through more police presence on highways and educating drivers.

State Police say they will be focusing their patrols in areas where there were fatal crashes last year where occupants were not wearing seat belts. From May 22 to May 25, 2015, there were a total of 33 crashes, according to State Police. During that time, there were three traffic fatalities, five crashes involving driver impairment, 12 arrests for driving under the influence, and 398 tickets written for speeding.

"Troopers will use organized saturation patrols as well as checkpoints throughout the state in an effort to reduce crashes," VSP Traffic Operations Commander Lt. John Flannigan said in a release. "Operation C.A.R.E is effective in educating the public and reducing the number of serious crashes."

The VSP will work with local police on the "Click It or Ticket" campaign through June 5. Click It or Ticket is an effort to increase seat belt use. Vermonters use of seat belts has held relatively steady at 85 percent over the past 12 years, according to police.

As of May 23, there have been 23 motor vehicle deaths in 2016. Nearly half of those involved people not wearing a seat belt or proper restraint.

— Staff reports


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