Christmas and New Year's Holidays

Sixteen people died during the Christmas and New Year's holidays last year.

"That number more than doubled the 1999 fatalities from a total of seven," said Second Lieutenant Chris West. "Although we continue to experience a decrease in the number of fatalities this year, unfortunately the margin has narrowed."

Ten of last year's 16 fatalities were due to unsafe speed, seven of the victims were not wearing safety belts and three of the traffic crashes were alcohol-related.

"What these statistics tell us is that drivers need to slow down," said West. "Just like during the Thanksgiving holiday, we anticipate an increase in the number of travellers on Oklahoma's roads. With lower gas prices and decreased air travel, people will have to exercise patient and safe driving."

State troopers will be watching for travellers not wearing their safety belts.

"We continue to urge people to take a few seconds to buckle up," said West. "Seven of last year's victims were not wearing safety belts and it's a tragedy they didn't take this precaution. It could have saved their life."

The OHP will be participating in a national traffic safety effort called Holiday Lifesaver Weekend that is organized through the Combined Accident Reduction Enforcement program.

"Basically the primary enforcement areas for this program target seat belts, DUI and speed violations," said West. "These are major contributors to injuries and loss of life."