EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

November 22, 2012

NH troopers team up to reduce holiday fatalities

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire State Police are launching a campaign to help reduce holiday highway fatalities by stepping up police presence.

New Hampshire troopers are teaming with their colleagues in the other five New England states to coordinate saturation patrols that make motorists pay attention to their speed as they drive travelling through several states to go skiing or visit friends and relatives.

State police Capt. John LeLacheur says troopers want to change attitudes, not write tickets.

He says New Hampshire and other states see a big spike in highway fatalities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Spontaneous holiday parties bear some of the blame, he said.

LeLacheur also stressed that seat belts save lives, even if New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require them by law.

LeLacheur, as field commander for much of the southern part of the state, said he has been to “hundreds and hundreds” of serious or fatal accidents.

He estimates that 70 percent of those who die in accidents in the Granite State are ejected from the vehicle. “A high percentage of our fatalities are non-seat-belted occupants.”

“Hopefully, if drivers see a lot of police activity on their travels they will discipline themselves,” LeLacheur said. “We want to change their attitudes and make them say, ‘I’m not going to drive like a fool because every two or five miles I see a trooper and I don’t want that $300 ticket.’”

“We hope people discipline themselves,” LeLacheur said. “We don’t want to write tickets. We don’t want to arrest people.”

He added, “We’re just trying to get people to relax and have a great holiday season.”

The state’s “Driving Toward Zero” website listed 95 highway fatalities so far this year headlining into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

LeLacheur said part of the campaign includes changing up digital signs along the highway with fresh reminders to drivers and updated fatality counts.

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