Traffic deaths raise concern about highway safety

Monday, May 26th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Lt. Jim Burris is no stranger to the ``crash facts'' compiled by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office that reveal whether law enforcement efforts are effective in stopping highway collisions and deaths.

But the pattern Burris has watched develop over the past three years has him perplexed: While the number of crashes and the number of fatal crashes has declined, the number of deaths on Oklahoma's roads and highways has risen.

Last year, 711 people died in traffic accidents in the state, the most since 747 people were killed in 1999. In 2001, 682 people were killed in highway collisions, a 3 percent increase over the 662 motorists killed in 2000.

``People appear to be in a hurry more than they ever have before,'' said Burris, the Highway Patrol's liaison to the Highway Safety Office. ``People are taking more chances than ever before.''

And there are more people on Oklahoma's highways traveling more miles than at any time in the last decade, said Cecilia Alsobrook, program manager at the Highway Safety Office.

With so many people traveling so many miles, someone dies in a highway crash in the state every 12.8 hours, according to the Highway Safety Office.