News 8 goes on ride-along with CT State Police working to curb rise in fatal road collisions

Connecticut

Conn. (WTNH) — More people are dying on Connecticut roads than last year, 16 percent more, according to the state Department of Transportation (DOT). News 8’s Bob Wilson went on a ride-along with State Police (CSP) Thursday to observe the problem firsthand and what’s being done to curb the trend.

State Police told News 8 it feels like there are more fatalities on Connecticut roads every time they go on a shift. They said people have developed bad habits during the COVID-19 pandemic and now they’re stepping up to try and correct that.

The most recent fatal crash was on Wednesday and involved a grandmother who struck a bridge abutment and rolled over on Route 9. She died. Two of her grandchildren were in the backseat and suffered only minor injuries.

Trooper Matthew Cashman of CSP said, “It’s heartbreaking because you know right then and there that family is going to get some bad news.”

RELATED: Driver killed, toddlers injured in serious rollover crash on Route 9 in Berlin

During the lockdown and strong restrictions during the deepest part of the pandemic, enforcement was relaxed. Now, CSP is trying to catch up.

Trooper Cashman explained, “Enforcement on the patrol side gets put on the back burner because you’re Motor Vehicle Collisions and criminal investigations come first.”

They are also down troopers on the road.

“You’re going crash, to crash, to crash, to prisons, to state buildings so you have a minimal amount of people covering an entire troop area.”

Currently, they have a class of 60 plus troopers set to graduate, but they need more.

“Just trying to stay above water, you’re going to put 60 troopers out but you have 200-300 retiring next year, so we’re behind the curve.”

Troopers say the bad habits they normally see on the road are intensified after coming out of COVID.

Cashman added, “People on their cell phones, people reading the newspapers; they’re just not paying attention.”

One of the things state police are trying to do is get the cars off the highway as quickly as possible following a crash. More traffic backed up on the highway creates more accidents, especially with the speed.

“Once that one motor vehicle accident happens, traffic starts backing up and then it becomes bumper cars, one car hit another car, and then it causes a chain reaction,” detailed Cashman.

State police say if they can get the speed to come down, the fatalities should follow.

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