Speed crackdown lauded in Vermont

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WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) – A crackdown on speeding last year helped curb the number of traffic fatalities which killed 88 people, up from 74 highway deaths in 2005, officials said Monday.

During the first half of 2006 traffic fatalities rose 60 percent, causing experts to predict that nearly 130 people would die on roadways by the end of the year.

Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper called a special meeting of police to address the problem, officials said.

“We identified the major cause of the increase to be speed and that most deaths were occurring on rural, non-interstate roads,” Sleeper said. “The law enforcement agencies across the state stepped up to the plate and targeted those roads and reduced their tolerance for speeding infractions.”

The stepped up enforcement has resulted in a major drop in the number of fatal crashes in the last six months of the year, he said.

That compares to 2005, which had the second lowest number of deaths in 50 years. The highest number came in 1979, when 161 people died in traffic crashes.

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