After Increase in Road Deaths, Police Urge Safer Driving

Public safety officials in Vermont are urging drivers to use extra caution on the roads this holiday weekend and beyond.

Vermont State Police say 58 people have died in 2016 on the state's roads. That's an increase over the 3-year average of 47 roadway deaths.

Electronic signs along busy stretches of highway such as Interstate 89 are urging drivers to practice safe driving. Other high-visibility efforts are also underway.

Glen Button of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance said crashes, whether fatal or survivable, all too often involve speeding, aggressive driving, alcohol, and distractions like cell phones.

More than half of all highway fatalities this year involved substance impairment, state police added.

"So far this year with our crashes, four out of 10 drivers who have been killed in these crashes weren't wearing seat belts," Button said. "You really have to wonder how many of those lives might've been saved if people had just taken that extra second and buckled up."

Vermont State Trooper Tom Howard, who was patrolling Interstate 89 in the Burlington area Wednesday, said he stopped several motorists for aggressive driving and speeding.

"The goal is always to get people to slow down and get to where they're going safely," Howard said.

Vermont's rate of seat belt use is estimated at 86 percent, according to Vermont State Police, who noted they would like to see that rate even higher.

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