WILLISTON – With a renewed focus on highway safety and reducing the number of highway deaths in the state, the Vermont State Police have committed to increasing trooper visibility along Interstate 89. Unfortunately, without a budget increase to go along with this new stepped up speed trap system, troopers are having to get creative in getting drivers to slow down.
“The first thing we did was to increase the number of vehicles present up and down the I-89 corridor, but unfortunately we were not able to increase the number of trooper hours, so we just stationed empty vehicles at specific locations and hoped no one would notice,” said Sergeant Anne D’Couvre.
When the division realized that it needed those empty cars for official business, troopers began to construct faux vehicles out of other materials.
“Originally we were constructing decoy vehicles out of the thousands of excess Amazon.com boxes that were lying around our homes, and that worked for a time. Unfortunately this is Vermont, and cardboard doesn’t last long outdoors, no matter how much shellac you get on there. But then someone had the idea to construct police vehicles out of hay and paint them to look like the real thing. From a distance cars can’t tell the difference, and all we have to do is go around about once a month and restuff them. Kind of fluff them up a bit. It’s working great, and saving us a ton of money.”
These decoy hay vehicles are estimated to have saved between zero and two thousand lives on the road in 2018 alone, leading the State Police to look into other creative measures for increasing effectiveness on a decreasing budget. Following the success of the hayhicles D’Couvre says she will be experimenting in the spring with a state trooper that is actually four raccoons sitting on top of each other’s shoulders.