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November 26. 2012 10:34PM

Grant will help Derry keep drivers focused on road

DERRY - Drivers who spend more time looking at their cellphones than the road might want to think twice the next time they drive through Derry.

The Town Council recently approved a $5,400 grant from the New Hampshire Safety Agency for the Derry Operation Safe Commute patrols.

"The Highway Safety Agency has informed the town that it will receive reimbursement of salary expenses plus roll-up costs for 72 hours of patrols to be conducted in accordance with the statewide effort for distracted driving patrols," said police Captain Vernon Thomas.

The funds can be used through Sept. 30, 2013.

"This will give us the opportunity to run traffic patrols once per month for three hours during the morning and afternoon commutes, and focus on aggressive and distracted driving," said Thomas.

The locations the patrols could take place include busy traffic areas such as Danforth Circle.

Patrols will be looking for drivers who fail to yield or do not come to a complete stop at stop signs. Thomas said the program has been successful and is now in its third year.

Before approving the funding, Town Councilor Joel Olbricht asked if these types of patrols can be done without committing overtime dollars.

"What (the safety agency) wants us to do is dedicate specific time during commuting hours, and we can't guarantee that because of the nature of our calls," said Thomas.

This is the second major grant the department has received for additional patrols this year.

In the spring, the highway safety agency provided a little over $22,000 in grant funds to assist with DWI, pedestrian, red light and speed enforcement patrols.

Those grants ran from May 1 through Sept. 15. The pedestrian enforcement patrols were primarily focused on making sure vehicles properly yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.


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