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State police Friday morning stepped up their enforcement of “aggressive driving,” using grant money to increase patrols and use unmarked cars along the length of Interstate 95.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office announced Friday that the state Department of Transportation had approved a $150,000 grant to the state Department of Public Safety for the enforcement. The public safety department had applied to the DOT for the funding, according to the governor's office.
Lt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman, said Friday that the funding will go toward additional manpower and using “nontraditional patrol cars,” like Dodge Chargers, that blend into traffic.
“We're looking for the speeders, but more importantly, we're looking for the person that passes on the shoulder, passes on the right, cuts in, operates in a reckless manner,” Vance said of the enforcement.
Vance said the extra enforcement began Friday morning; he wasn't sure how much time and extra enforcement the $150,000 would provide.
Vance added that the enforcement, even in the unmarked cars, includes fully uniformed state troopers.
Although Vance and the commanding officer at Troop E in Montville indicated that police had already requested the funding, the announcement of the funding came a week after a fatal tanker-truck crash on I-95 in East Lyme.
The tanker truck, driving north, lost control and careened into oncoming traffic, killing three people, including the tanker-truck driver. Witnesses said they saw the driver of the tanker-truck speeding and tailgating before the crash.
Lt. Louis J. Fusaro, the commanding officer at the Troop E barracks, said Friday that police are still investigating the Nov. 2 accident. Fusaro said police have identified more witnesses they need to speak with and doing mechanical inspections of all the vehicles involved, among other aspects of the investigation.
Fusaro said it was far too early to tell what caused the tanker-truck to cross the median. He added that anyone who might have seen anything relevant is encouraged to call state police at 848-6500.
Drivers who routinely travel I-95 through East Lyme have already seen an increase in police presence there this week. A mobile radar unit has sat on the side of the highway before Exit 74 north since Monday, flashing the speed of drivers.
Two cruisers have also been positioned on either side of the highway near Exit 75 since Monday. And on Friday morning, a cruiser with flashing lights sped south. Nearby, a Dodge Charger, blue and red lights flashing from the front, had pulled over a car.
A spokesman for the governor's office said Friday that the enforcement is not aimed at trucks or commercial vehicles specifically, but rather any vehicle that is following too closely, speeding, or violating traffic laws.