Police say North Country motor vehicle deaths downBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
July 20. 2014 8:26PM
PLYMOUTH — At the mid-point of summer, the North Country’s top law enforcement officer reports that while the number of visitors to the region seems to be up this season, problems are down, including motor-vehicle related deaths.
State Police Lt. Todd Landry is the commander of Twin Mountain-based Troop F, whose troopers cover all of Grafton and Coos counties, which combined total some 3,500 square miles — an area that is three times the size of the state of Rhode Island — and represents 38 percent of New Hampshire.
“We’re seeing a lot of visitors but overall, people are being courteous in their driving,” Landry said.
Although there’s no way to quantify how many visitors there are, Landry said he’s seeing them all over the Troop F coverage area which is “obviously good for our economy.”
Despite ongoing road work throughout the North Country — including but not limited to major thoroughfares like Interstate 93, and state routes 25C and 3 — there haven’t been any particular challenges for Troop F this summer, said Landry, but there has been an “uptick” in motor vehicle accidents and arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“There’s more this year than the last,” Landry said of the arrests for driving under the influence, but the good news is that traffic fatalities are down in the North Country, something that reflects a statewide trend this year.
State Police recorded six deaths on Grafton County roads in 2013, Landry noted, but just one so far in 2014, whereas Coos County had two fatalities last year and two this year. New Hampshire has seen traffic fatalities decrease 23 percent, added Landry.
Also down this year are moose vs. motor vehicle collisions, Landry said, but amidst the generally good news, he noted that distracted drivers remain a concern and a contributing factor in accidents.
“One of the things that becomes a factor (in the accidents) is cell phones,” said Landry, observing that while it is illegal to text and drive in New Hampshire, it is not illegal, however, to make or take phone calls while operating a vehicle.