wyoming highway patrol

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Winter weather this week caused I-80 to close across most of the state. The first major closure of the winter driving season was prompted by near zero visibility and blowing snow across much of interstate 80.

Sergeant David Wagener with the Wyoming Highway Patrol says the most important safety tip for winter driving is wearing your seatbelt, something he says everyone should be doing no matter what the weather conditions are.

I-80 is closed in both directions between Walcott Junction and Laramie after a second pileup in five days. One death and over twenty injuries are confirmed.

The crash happened around 8am Monday morning about 18 miles west of Laramie, when two semis reportedly collided, causing one to jackknife across both westbound lanes.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

At least twenty-seven people are being treated for injuries after three massive pile-ups on Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheyenne Thursday morning. 

The Wyoming Highway Patrol estimates 45 vehicles were involved in the crashes. Both directions of I-80 have been closed indefinitely while the crashes are investigated.

Six to ten inches of snow fell overnight in the area according to the National Weather Service and the Highway Patrol reports ongoing blizzard conditions.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

A report of a stolen vehicle led the Wyoming Highway Patrol to make a drug bust Tuesday in Casper.

The Highway Patrol says Hertz Rental Company contacted them about a stolen vehicle in the Casper area at nine Tuesday morning.   The Patrol located the vehicle at a Pawn shop in Casper. 

Lieutenant Kleif Guenther with the Highway Patrol says two individuals, Jason Latoskie and Sherry Mehring were arrested and charged with drug possession.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

Deaths on Wyoming highways have risen sharply this year. While there were 87 fatalities in 2013, there have been 136 in 2014. 61 percent of the people who died on Wyoming highways this year were not wearing seatbelts.

Sergeant David Wagener with the Wyoming Highway Patrol says that while seatbelts are mandatory in the state, seatbelt laws are only enforceable after a driver has been pulled over for another offense like speeding. He also says people still choose to break that law.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol issues quotas for the number of stops and citations its troopers need to make in a given year.

An internal document obtained by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle newspaper shows troopers in Southeast Wyoming’s District One need to make at least 732 traffic stops and issue at least 55 seat belt violations per year to be considered “competent.”

Those ratings directly affect troopers, as they play a role in determining state worker’s salaries.

Miles Bryan

It’s not unusual for some employers in Wyoming to have a hard time finding enough workers. That can be a headache for business owners, but lately it’s the cause of some public safety concern as well. The Wyoming Highway Patrol is down almost twenty percent of its officers, and it is struggling to attract new ones.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

For the first year ever, Wyoming and South Dakota Highway Patrols joined up to patrol on the Interstate-90 corridor into the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

This is the 73rd  year the well-known rally has been held in  South Dakota. The number of people attending the rally was probably lower than usual, says Sargent John Townsend of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

But the number of arrests were lower, too.  He attributes the rally's quiet mood this year to the stronger enforcement presence on the roads.

A veteran officer is taking over as the new colonel of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Lt. Col. John Butler of Cheyenne has been selected as the new
administrator of the patrol and will be promoted to the rank of
colonel. He's the twelfth person to head the patrol since its
formation in 1933.

 Butler is a 27-year Highway Patrol veteran. He replaces Col.
Jess Oyler, who retired at the end of last year. Butler has served
as interim patrol administrator since Oyler's retirement.