March 1999 - Monthly Fatality Report

Department of Public Safety officials report an increase of five traffic fatalities in March for a total of 58, compared to 53 in the same month last year.

There were 16 single-vehicle fatality crashes and 20 two-vehicle crashes reported. Two of the 58 victims were pedestrians, one a motorcyclist and one a bicyclist. Eighteen people died on Fridays and 14 on Wednesdays, with eight deathless days in the month.

Eight of the 45 fatality crashes were alcohol-related in the opinion of the investigating state, county or municipal officer. There were 37 male and 21 female victims, and 11 of the fatalities were nonresidents.

The leading number of deaths by age group includes 11 victims in the 21- to 30-year-old and the 71 and over age groups, dropping to nine in the 31- to 40-year-olds. Three deaths occurred in the 10-year-old and under category. Creek County led the state in total fatalities with six, followed by five in Sequoyah and Tulsa Counties.

Sixty-three percent of those who died were not wearing safety belts at the time of the crash, according to DPS statistics. Twenty-one people died in 17 crashes as the result of driving at unsafe speeds, the leading cause of death for the last three months. The second-leading cause was failure to stop or yield with 10 deaths, followed by traveling left of center or passing with a total of five.

"We could speculate that one reason fatalities increased in March was the winter weather that passed through Oklahoma. But the bottom line is the fact that the leading cause of traffic deaths continues to be unsafe speed," said Lieutenant Stewart Meyer of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. "Speed kills, it's plain and simple. And with the nice weather lately, more people are out on the road. It's just not worth your life to exceed the speed limit."