Highway Fatalities Soar, Police Plan More Patrols

Crime / Aug. 10, 2017 11:33am EDT

In the wake of a shocking number of highway deaths in the span of a few days, Vermont’s top law enforcement officials on Tuesday issued a sober statement on driving safety. The release referenced eight fatalities that occurred as a result of five crashes.

Two of the eight victims were from the White River Valley— 38-year-old James Arbuckle of Bethel, who died in an August 4 crash in Royalton, and 26-yearold Jeremy Johnston of Randolph, who died August 6 in a crash on I-91.( See separate stories.)

Seven of the eight people who died were not wearing seatbelts, the release noted.

“Statistically, a person wearing a seatbelt is 50% to 70% more likely to survive a crash than an unbelted person,” the joint statement read. ”Buckling up may save your and your loved one’s life. It is the single most important thing you can do when getting into a car. If you are the driver of a vehicle, insist on seat belts for all occupants.”

The statement also put a focus on drivers’ “responsibility not to place others on the road at risk of death or serious bodily injury.

“Drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol, drivers distracted by phones or other hand-held devices, and drivers who speed are the greatest threats to highway safety,” the release stated.

In the wake of these recent crashes, law enforcement agencies statewide will increase the number of highway patrols, and explore ways “to increase messaging on the importance of driver responsibility and safety,” the statement concluded.

Officials signing the statement included Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson; Vermont State Police Director Col. Matthew Birmingham; Jen Morrison, Colchester police chief and president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police; Bill Bohnyak, Orange County sheriff and president of the Vermont Sheriff’s Association; and Jake Elovita, director of DMV’s Enforcement and Safety Division.

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