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Police warn that after a COVID reprieve, they are back in the business of enforcing traffic laws

Troopers say they've noticed a disturbing trend: Drivers flouting the rules of the road

MAINE, USA — The pandemic caused a reprieve in a lot of things. Among them, enforcement of traffic laws that were not imminently life-threatening, but our reprieve is over.

No longer can we be lax on registering our cars or getting them inspected.   Police officers who were limiting face-to-face contact with drivers will resume more strict enforcement.

On Tuesday, state police held a news conference to put people on notice. 

Col. John Cote of the Maine State Police said, "We are returning to our stance of targeted enforcement." 

Specifically, troopers will be targeting people who are speeding as well as those driving aggressively, recklessly, distracted or impaired.

Troopers said they have seen more people breaking the rules of the road and they are hearing from other drivers that they are concerned for their own safety.

Lieut. Patrick Hood with the Maine State Police said, "We have seen big concerns.  A lot of distracted drivers and people driving at high speeds. Collectively we are getting back to the business of saving lives."

The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety has issued grants to various law enforcement to increase patrols right away. And they won't just be doing it from the ground, but also from the air, which makes it easier to catch speeders.

Crashes caused by high speed went down last year because there were fewer drivers on the road, yet the number of deaths rose from 157 in 2019 to 165 last year. Lt. Hood believes that is in large part to people driving too fast, but added people are also not paying attention.  

Since January 1, the Bureau of Highway Safety reports there have been 665 crashes due to distracted driving. State police say it's time for that to stop. 

"Everyone had a phone. It's important to put it down while your driving," Lt. Hood said.

He added it is also illegal to hold any kind of electronic device when you are behind the wheel even if you are at a stoplight.

The Bureau of Highway Safety is launching a statewide media campaign to put drivers on notice that the rules of the road will be enforced.

Director Lauren Stewart said, "We want everyone to survive their drive and enjoy their spring and summer."