New Year's - state troopers urge motorists to take heed

With five days left in 2010, state troopers urge motorists to take heed.

Troopers will be doing everything possible to keep the roads safe this holiday weekend, but they need the cooperation of all travelers to end the year with fewer traffic deaths than last year. In spite of reasonable fuel prices and increased holiday travel over the past two months, Oklahoma has benefitted from fewer traffic deaths as compared to previous years.

"There's a real possibility that we'll have more than one hundred fewer traffic deaths than last year; coupled with a ten-year low, and that's some really good news," said Captain Chris West, Department of Public Safety spokesperson.

As of Sunday, December 26, 2010, there were 108 fewer traffic deaths as compared to the same time last year, (621 compared to 729 for the same time frame in 2009), but with New Year celebrations this weekend, troopers are urging motorists not to drink and drive to bring in 2011.

"Troopers patrolling Oklahoma's roads throughout the holiday weekend will continue to enforce the no tolerance policy for those who choose to drink and drive, as well as for those who choose not to wear their safety belts," said West.

Last year, DPS officials reported 737 people were killed in 646 traffic crashes statewide. Drivers in 190 of those crashes were under the influence of alcohol, making up twenty-nine percent of all crashes.

"Wearing safety belts has been the law for over a decade now, and we believe that increased compliance coupled with aggressive enforcement has played a significant role in the reduction of traffic deaths," West said.

"There are many transportation options for people who choose to celebrate by consuming alcohol this weekend; getting behind the wheel is the worst. Drinking and driving is irresponsible and won't be tolerated," said West.

Fatal numbers for the past ten years:
2009: 737
2008: 751
2007: 770
2006: 765
2005: 800
2004: 777
2003: 671
2002: 739
2001: 682

Motorists traveling with cellular telephones can contact the Oklahoma Highway Patrol by dialing *55 to report an erratic driver or traffic emergencies on Oklahoma roadways.