MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — State police are stepping up patrols this weekend to stop reckless driving. News 8’s Jayne Chacko rode along with State Trooper Leah Vaichus to see the problem firsthand. 

While driving on Rt 15, dispatch sends Vaichus to an accident. With lights on, foot on the gas, she jumps into action. 

“I’m out here to make sure you’re safe, your family is safe, and you get to where you’re going safely,” she told News 8. 

A holiday weekend means more cars on the road. 

Vaichus says she responds to a lot of accidents, some caused by distracted driving. 

“You have to stay focused, don’t be messing around on the radio or messing around on your phone.”

Pulling up to a scene near exit 60, she hopes for the best, just a minor accident with no injuries. Luckily, this time it was a fender bender. Vaichus processes a report for a fender bender, but she’s had to deal with a lot worse. 

According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation Office of Highway Safety, there have been 166 traffic-related deaths in Connecticut, up from 123 in 2021 and 126 in 2020 during the same January 1 through June 19 period. 

“If you’re driving recklessly and you cause an accident, then you’re either sending somebody to the hospital or you’re hurting yourself so I’m out here, I want people to slow down,” she said. 

Extra state patrols will be on the road this weekend looking out for people ignoring the speed limit. Police say drive slow and pay attention.

“If you get a ticket, it’s because you’re doing something wrong, if you get pulled over, you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. I want people to get where they’re going safely, I want people to have a happy Fourth of July.” 

Vaichus reminds drivers to be aware of police cars and emergency vehicles on the side of the road and move to the next lane safely to avoid any accidents.