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Vermont promoting highway safety with new strategy

The Associated Press


WATERBURY, Vt. — Vermont's transportation and public safety agencies are joining with other public and private partners in the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance as part of a broader effort to keep people safe on the state's roads, officials announced Monday.

During an event at the Public Safety Department headquarters in Waterbury, the officials said they are renewing their emphasis of cracking down on impaired and distracted driving, increasing the use of seat belts and getting motorists to slow down.

"We can make a difference and save lives in Vermont, and we want to begin now and make it happen this summer," said Deputy Transportation Secretary Sue Minter.

The alliance will work to improve safety with a system that takes advantage of education, enforcement, engineering and emergency services.

The number of fatal crashes is down significantly from a generation ago, but during the last several years the number of fatalities has ranged from between 48 and 77.

"About a year or so ago a bunch of people got together and decided that, really, while we'd made progress reducing crashes on our highways in Vermont we were still losing, on average, 70 lives on our highways each year," said Kevin Marshia, an engineer with the Vermont Transportation Agency.

There are also between 11,000 and 13,000 non-fatal crashes each year, he said.

"We recognize that that is way too many," he said.

Minter said that about 40 percent of the people who died during crashes were not wearing seat belts or wearing a helmet, while 33 percent were suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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