After string of fatal crashes, State Police to step up patrols on Route 24 and I-195
George Rizer for The Boston Globe
Beginning Friday, 11 additional Massachusetts State Police patrols will cruise Route 24 and Interstate 195 every weekend for the rest of the summer as law enforcement officials attempt to counter a spike in traffic fatalities and injuries.
The extra patrols, which will run from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, come in response to a number of recent crashes. The additional patrols will cost the State Police about $125,000.
Six people have been killed in fatal crashes on Route 24 so far this year -- compared to the five traffic fatalities on the highway in all of 2011, said David Procopio, a state police spokesman.
Three of those fatalities have occurred this month.
Angel Pina, a 12-year-old Norton girl, was killed July 12 when the truck she was riding in rolled over after one of its back tires blew out, ejecting her from the vehicle.
On July 15, Lisa Banat, 19, of Mansfield was killed when her car, traveling the wrong way on Route 24, stuck a pickup truck head-on around 4 a.m. The truck’s driver, 44-year-old John LaChapelle, of Tiverton, R.I., was also killed when his vehicle burst into flames.
“One death is one death too many,” said Procopio, who added that most of the fatal accidents have occurred during the late night and early morning hours of the weekends.
Almost 40 percent of this year’s fatal crashes, Procopio said, were caused by drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol.
“We hope we can influence safer driving practices by having greater presence on the road,” he said.
State Police will re-analyze crash statistics at the end of the summer to determine if it is necessary to continue the extra patrols.
“If we can make the roads safer, this will be invaluable,” Procopio said.