Oklahoma Traffic Fatality Rates Decrease

With major holidays approaching, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol would like to remind travelers to slow down, buckle up, and drive safely.

Seven hundred sixty people lost their lives in 637 crashes on Oklahoma's roads in 2007.

"The number of people killed in vehicle crashes has steadily declined since 1999. This is in direct correlation to increased seat belt usage among drivers as well as passengers," said Captain Chris West, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. "According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, seat belt compliance in our state is at a record high of 84.3%, compared to the national average of 82%. It's a proven fact that seat belts save lives."

"From January 1 through November 1, 2008, there were 66 fewer fatalities than for the same time period in 2007," West said. "During the same time frame last year, there were 50 fewer fatalities at this point than there were in 2006, however, by the end of 2007, there were only 5 fewer people killed in vehicle crashes than there were the previous year. With severe winter weather approaching, we usually experience an increase in traffic deaths in November and December. Also, with gasoline prices down, we are expecting record numbers of travelers this holiday season."

"Speed continues to be the leading cause of fatal crashes on Oklahoma's roads, and was a contributing factor in 20% of the 637 deadly crashes in 2007, said West. "Also, 121 of the drivers involved in fatal crashes last year were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs."

"Please help us to ensure that everyone has a safe, enjoyable holiday season. Make sure all passengers in your vehicle are wearing a seat belt, use child restraints, watch your speed, nd please don't drink and drive," West said. "We encourage travelers to dial *55 from your cell phone to report erratic driving behavior."