Christmas and New Year's Holidays

Eighteen people died during the Christmas and New Year holidays last year, 2006.

"That number is down eight from 2005 when we had a total of 26 fatalities," said Captain Chris West. "Although we continue to experience a decrease in the number of fatalities this year, unfortunately the margin has narrowed."

Four of last year's 18 fatalities were due to unsafe speed, four were due to failure to yield, ten of the victims (56%) 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 this holiday season. People will need to exercise patience and safe driving."

State troopers will be watching for travellers drinking and driving, speeding and not wearing their safety belts. If you see an impaired driver dial *55 on your cell phone.

"We continue to urge people to take a few seconds to buckle up," said West. "Ten of last year's victims were not wearing safety belts and four usage unknown. It's a tragedy they didn't take this precaution, it is a proven fact seat belts save lives.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will join law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada for National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend, organized through the Combined Accident Reduction Enforcement (C.A.R.E.) program which starts December 21 and runs through December 23rd. This safety program is designed to encourage safe travel during the Christmas holiday period by getting impaired drivers off the roadways.

"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.