12 crash fatalities marks CT’s deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2006, data shows

File photo.

File photo.

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A dozen people were killed in crashes on Connecticut roads this weekend, marking the deadliest Memorial Day weekend in nearly two decades, state data shows.

The fatal accidents included a wrong-way way crash on Interstate 95 southbound in Guilford that killed four people early Sunday and a one-car crash in Thompson on Monday afternoon that also killed four people and seriously injured a fifth person.

A one-car crash in Hampton killed a 17-year-old Saturday morning and a driver also died after colliding with the rear of a tractor trailer Sunday morning. Two others died in an accident in Franklin on Monday evening, state police said.

The crashes occurred on state roads, which are patrolled by State Police. The figures do not include any fatal accidents that may have occurred on municipal roads during the Memorial Day weekend.

The last time Connecticut saw more than 12 traffic fatalities during a Memorial Day weekend was in 2006 when 14 people died, state figures show. Only 2008 has since had double-digit traffic fatalities — 11 — while every other Memorial Day weekend had no more than six, the data shows.

“This past weekend was horrific,” said Eric Jackson, executive director of the Connecticut Transportation Institute at the University of Connecticut. “I think it’s probably one of the worst Memorial Day weekends we’ve had in quite some time.”

Jackson said the number of fatal accidents — 124 — in Connecticut from Jan. 1 to May 23 is the most to start a year since 1995, according to state figures. That doesn’t even include the 12 fatalities that occurred over the weekend, officials said.

“We’ve already doubled the number of traffic fatalities that we had during the same period in 2019,” Jackson said.

Connecticut has already seen more wrong-way driver fatalities this year than all of 2021, Jackson said.

“And we still have seven months to go,” said Jackson, whose institute compiles and studies crash data statewide and provides training for police in investigating traffic accidents.

Jackson and several other experts in traffic fatalities and accidents believe the pandemic has negatively affected driver behavior and they said it may take years to get people to slow down and be more careful on the roads.

“There’s definitely an increase in speeding and definitely an increase in some kind of impairment,” said Fran Mayko, spokesperson for AAA Northeast, which includes Litchfield, Fairfield and New Haven counties. “It’s all probably a result of the pandemic. Connecticut is following a trend that is happening throughout the country. Speeding is a problem that had worsened since the pandemic.”

State police said it may take months before they determine the causes of the weekend accidents.

“We are extremely concerned and saddened by the tragic fatal crashes that occurred during this holiday weekend,” state police said in a statement. “The Connecticut State Police are working to determine the exact causes of the multiple fatal accidents around the state. At this time, there does not appear to be any commonalities looking at the preliminary information. Each fatal accident has different causes and variables involved.”

Overall, the number of Memorial Day weekend accidents this year was down slightly from 2021. State police responded this weekend to 359 crashes, including 35 with injuries, one with serious injuries and five with fatalities. In 2021, state police responded to 377 accidents with 56 injuries and one fatality. In 2020, data shows there were no fatal crashes over the Memorial Day weekend.

“We cannot emphasize enough that as we move into the summer weather that the public take cautions — buckle up, slow down, ditch distractions, move over,” state police said. “Small changes can make the difference between going home safely ... or a tragedy.”

The number of speeding violations this year — 615 — nearly doubled compared with the same period last year when there were 377 speeding violations, state police data shows. But the number remained less than the 2020 Memorial Day weekend when there were 983 speeding violations.

The number of drunken driving arrests made during the holiday weekend also remained fairly steady compared with the past few years, data shows. This holiday weekend state police made 37 drunken driving arrests compared with 30 during the same period in 2021 and 33 in 2020.

“Speeds are up across the board,” said Josh Morgan, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation. “People are driving way too fast. They need to slow down, put down their phone and pay more attention. We’re seeing a trend of increased speeding and increased crashes across the board.”