Christmas and New Year Holidays

Seventeen people were killed on Oklahoma's highways during the Christmas and New Year holidays last year.

"In comparison, there were a total of three fatalities during the same time period in 2004," said Captain Chris West of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

More than half of last year's seventeen fatalities were due to unsafe speed, fourteen of the victims were not wearing safety belts, and seven of the fatal crashes were alcohol-related.

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

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

"For people who choose to celebrate the holidays by consuming alcohol, there are many transportation options available. Getting behind the wheel is the worst option of all. Drinking and driving is irresponsible, dangerous and deadly. The best options are designated drivers and cab services," stated West. "If you choose to drink and drive, you may get a ride from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol straight to the county jail."

Motorists traveling with cellular phones may contact the Oklahoma Highway Patrol by dialing *55 or 911 to report erratic and drunk drivers and traffic emergencies.