Vermont State Police increase patrols for busiest Fourth of July weekend


Drivers will see a greater police presence, more cars on the road and low gas prices this Fourth of July weekend.

Law enforcement around the state will increase patrols over what's historically one of the worst holidays for traffic-related deaths. And with the lowest gas prices in more than a decade, more drivers are expected to be travelling Vermont's roadways.

In addition to more patrols, troopers with the Vermont State Police will be conducting sobriety checkpoints. Both efforts aim to identify impaired and aggressive drivers, authorities say.

"Aggressive and impaired drivers present the highest risks on our highways and have a greater chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash," the agency stated in a news release.

The enforcement efforts started Friday and will run through Monday, July 4, and are led under Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) and the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

The Fourth of July holiday is often cited as of the deadliest holidays in the U.S., with traffic-related deaths the leading cause of death and injury. More people die in car crashes on July 4 than any other day of the year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In Vermont, 31 people have died from motor vehicle related crashes this year, according to Vermont State Police. Of those, 54 percent were not wearing a seat belt or helmet, or were belted incorrectly. Twelve operators are suspected impaired by alcohol or other drugs. The agency encouraged Vermonters to "focus on safe and responsible driving" over the weekend.

AAA is projecting the highest Fourth of July traffic volume on record — 43 million Americans will be on the roads, five million more than Memorial Day weekend.

"Spurred by the lowest gas prices since 2005, more people than ever are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend," Pat Moody director of public affairs and traffic safety for AAA Northern New England, said in a news release. "Whether they're traveling by car, plane, train, or cruise ship, it will be exciting to see so many Americans celebrating our nation's freedom with their friends and family over the long holiday weekend."

In New England, AAA is predicting the highest travel volume in 15 years — 1.57 million people will be on the roads, an increase of 1.6 percent over last year.

Most Americans will pay the lowest Fourth of July gas prices since 2005, according to AAA. Nationally, the average price for a gallon is $2.30, 47 cents less than a year ago. Vermont's current price of $2.33 per gallon is 46 cents lower than a year ago.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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