'Drivers make the difference' State police step up patrols this holiday week
By ANDREA BULFINCH
DOVER State police from three New England states will be out in force this week, stepping up patrols and joining together to accomplish a unified goal of reducing the total number of traffic fatalities as residents and visitors celebrate the Fourth of July holiday throughout the neighboring states.
Troopers from New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts gathered at Hilton Park Monday morning to share their message with the public and ask for compliance from revelers this holiday who are either making locations in the Granite State their destination, or passing through to a neighboring one.
As the three states deal with the same traffic and safety issues, Maj. Russell Conte said the troopers had the same goals toward public safety and that it was the hope of each of the troopers to ensure that no family feels the impact of losing a loved one over the holiday.
"This is a big week for us," he said. "We've seen a tremendous influx of people visiting New England."
With the holiday falling midweek this year, Monday marked the official start with Thursday as an end point, though both the weekends before and after are considered to be part of the potentially extended-vacation festivities.
While it's important people enjoy themselves, he said, it's also important they do so in moderation.
Distracted driving will be a key target of officers as they patrol areas of the state and Conte said drivers need to be attentive while operating a vehicle or boat and not using devices like cell phones for texting or calling while driving. Impairment, he said, goes beyond the use of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, another violation troopers will be looking for signs of with various checkpoints.
"It has to be a team effort from both sides," he said, and added support from the public is vital to troopers' ability to complete their jobs efficiently.
Col. Robert Quinn told Foster's before the press event that for every one second a person looks down at their phone or any hand-held device, their vehicle has traveled 50 feet of road.
Last year, the number of traffic-related fatalities in New Hampshire was at a record low of 90, but the goal this year is to continue reducing the number. Quinn said the campaign "Driving Toward Zero Deaths," is intended to do just that.
A data-driven approach will be used to seek out locations that will likely require more patrols.
Massachusetts State Police Maj. Edward Amodeo said joint efforts between the states were successful in the past.
Naming distracted driving along with speeding, and aggressive driving, Amadeo said some patrols focus specifically on drag racing, and explained it's the type of action that tends to occur more when police don't focus on it.
He also said there's one thing every driver can do to reduce fatality rates, and that is to always wear a seat belt.
"It's the single most important thing," he said.
Use of laser, radar, and aircraft will be employed to track speeding along the highways, but Maine State Police Maj. Gary Wright said it won't be use of deterrents that keep the roadways safe.
"Drivers make the difference," he said.
Included under the umbrella of "traffic" are all boats that will take to the waters this week. To that end, Marine Patrol will assist in keeping traffic on the lakes and at the beaches safe.
"Impairment on a boat is as much a problem as it is in a car," Wright said.
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