Fewer People Dying On Oklahoma Roadways

Wednesday, July 11th 2007, 2:26 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Fewer people are dying on Oklahoma roadways this year, with a significant drop in the number of traffic-related fatalities in June, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported Wednesday.

During June, 40 people died on Oklahoma roadways, compared to 71 fatalities in 2006, the OHP reported. For the year, 383 were killed on state roads in 2007, compared to just 333 so far this year.

"We are excited at what we're seeing right now, but we want to encourage people to be safe so that trend will continue," said OHP Capt. Chris West. "We always get real excited when we see these decreases, but historically the last two months of the year can be a problem."

Because of the frequent holiday travel in November and December, combined with occasional bad weather, there is generally a spike in fatalities during those two months, West said.

An increase in seat belt usage by Oklahomans likely contributed to the drop in the number of fatalities.

"We've seen an increase in seat-belt compliance," West said. "We're still running around 83 percent, which is above the national average.

"We also have to say the public is doing a good job driving."

Of the June fatalities, 54 percent of those who died in traffic collisions were not wearing safety belts at the time of the crash, the patrol reported. Unsafe speed continued to be the leading cause of fatal crashes, with 32 of the 40 victims killed because of
excessive speed.

Of the June victims, 29 died in vehicle crashes, five were pedestrians and six were motorcyclists, OHP reported.

Three of the fatal crashes were alcohol-related in the opinion of the investigating officer. There were 34 male and six female victims, and 12 of the victims were age 20 and younger.

Rogers and Tulsa counties led the state in fatality accidents last month with four each, followed by Canadian and Marshall counties with three fatalities each.