Police Reports

Vermont highway fatalities up 33% this year

By Guy Page

As of May 16, there have been 24 crash fatalities on Vermont’s roads in 2022 – a 33% increase over last year, and a 60% increase over the 10-year average.

There were 18 at this point last year and the 10-year average for this date is 15, state police report. 

The 73 traffic fatalities in 2021 were the most in a decade. Vermont State Police told News 5 last December 30 that “speeding, drug and alcohol consumption, and refraining from seat belt use” were the main causes. 

Deaths from alcohol and drug abuse were both up in Vermont last year. The shortage of police is well-known. Also, some Vermonters wonder if there is a ‘pandemic effect’ has affected Vermonters’ driving habits.

“I’ve noticed since the pandemic began, people seem to be ignoring traffic laws at a much higher rate,” a South Burlington Vermont Daily Chronicle reader observed today. “The cell phone law especially seems to be largely ignored. As a motorcyclist I am keenly aware of the noncompliance due to being so vulnerable to it. The other day I saw a man turning right on red from Hannaford onto busy Shelburne Road while holding a cell phone to his ear with a dog on his lap. As they say, you can’t make this stuff up.”

Vermont’s highway fatality woes are part of a national crisis.

Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that an estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. The projection is the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history.

“We face a crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With our National Roadway Safety Strategy and the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking critical steps to help reverse this devastating trend and save lives on our roadways.” 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, now being implemented, will spend up to $6 billion over five years to fund local efforts to reduce roadway crashes and fatalities. It advances ‘Complete Streets’ policies and standards; requires updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which defines speeds, lane markings, traffic lights and more on most roads in the country; and increases funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program, which helps states adopt data-driven approaches to making roads safer.

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6 replies »

  1. When there is general societal malaise, people place less value on their lives and the lives of others. This is reflected in seat belt use and driving behavior. Fortunately the VT Legislature has adjourned so they have little opportunity to do their customary over-reaction to show “how much they care”. A little Darwinism is good for a society that has gone way too far in the way of safety zealotry and micromanaging. Stupid drivers engage in self-imposed eugenics.

  2. “The other day I saw a man turning right on red from Hannaford onto busy Shelburne Road while holding a cell phone to his ear with a dog on his lap.”

    I get why being on a cell phone is a problem, but it’s completely LEGAL to make a “right on red” in Vermont.
    If more people knew this, it would be wayyy less annoying to drive in this nanny state.
    Another tip: while you may think you are being a “friendly driver”, letting people go out of turn, or slowing down and waving so they can make a left causes more confusion resulting in accidents than just following the established rules of the road. Just stop.

    • Do you really believe the myth that the retail sale of MJ will add to traffic fatalities? It’s been so readily available here on the black market for many years, those who use it will continue to and those who don’t, won’t. If anything, adding local shops will DECREASE traffic infractions related to MJ- if that is even a real issue in the first place. Now, users will NOT have to drive across towns (or to Massachusetts) in search of it.

      • The confirmed truth that many choose to disbelieve (for various reasons) is that with the legalization and legal marketing of cannabis the fatalities do indeed increase. Just ask officials in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and many others. Cannabis fatalities went up as each state legalized cannabis. The facts are there; you have been lied to. Here in Vermont, our fatalities have also increased, not for alcohol and driving but for drugs and driving (marijuana being the drug of choice in the fatalities). I have real, official data that proves what I stated above. Sorry, but the information has been misreported by the industry and the heavy users.

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