The Vermont State Police, the Governor's Highway Safety Program, the South Burlington Police Department and the Chittenden County Sheriff's Department participated in a joint news conference last week to speak of the preliminary 2009 fatal crash data and winter weather driving with emphasis on the state's Move Over Law.
Steve Reckers of the Governor's Highway Safety Program spoke of the preliminary 2009 fatal crash data. There were 75 fatalities. Below is the statistical break down:
Of the 75 fatalities: 64 percent were males (48) 36 percent were females (27) 75 percent (56) in vehicles used as passenger conveyance 39 percent of fatalities in vehicles were restrained 76 percent (57) of fatalities were Vermont residents 41 percent of the fatalities occurred on a Friday or a Saturday 35 percent (67) were alcohol related while 11 percent (8) are unknown 10.7 percent (8) were motorcycle riders. The oldest deceased in the state was age 87 (2), youngest deceased was age 3.
Two damaged State Police cruisers and a damaged police cruiser that had been struck on the interstate highway this winter due to motorists not abiding by the "Move Over Law" were displayed at the conference to stress the importance of this law.
Lt. John Flannigan, of the VSP, spoke of two key points to remind operators on how to react properly while in the presence of emergency vehicles, towing and highway maintenance vehicles:
When an emergency vehicle approaches any motor vehicle in traffic and that emergency vehicle is displaying it's flashing lights and or siren, all vehicles are to pull to the right and come to a complete stop. The simple rule to remember, according to Flannigan, is to pull to the right for sirens and lights.
The operator of a vehicle which is approaching a stationary law enforcement vehicle which is displaying a blue or blue and white signal lamp, or of a vehicle which is approaching a stationary ambulance, fire apparatus, a vehicle operated by a volunteer firefighter, rescue vehicle or a stationary towing and repair vehicle displaying an amber signal lamp must proceed with caution, and, if traveling on a four-lane highway, and safety conditions permit, make a lane change.
It is reported that more than 150 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed since 1999 after being struck by vehicles along America's highways, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Violating Title 23 Vermont Statutes Annotated section 1050 (Operation on approach of law enforcement and emergency vehicles) carries a fine of $243 and five points.