104 N.D. traffic deaths in 2008North Dakota recorded 104 traffic deaths in 2008, seven fewer than last year, the Highway Patrol said. Fifty of the deaths involved alcohol.
BISMARCK (AP) — North Dakota recorded 104 traffic deaths in 2008, seven fewer than last year, the Highway Patrol said. Fifty of the deaths involved alcohol.
“It comes down to making smart choices when operating a vehicle — choosing not to drink and drive and choosing to buckle up,” Patrol Lt. Mike Gerhart said.
The patrol reported 97 fatal crashes, 45 of them alcohol-related, killing 50 people.
The state’s average over the past five years has been 51 traffic deaths involving alcohol.
The patrol said last year’s numbers included 13 motorcycle deaths, the most in five years, as well as seven pedestrian deaths, one bicycle death and one train-caused death.
Gerhart said 81 of the victims involved cases where seat belt use was possible. Of those, 59 victims were not buckled up, he said. Seventeen were wearing seat belts and authorities could not determine seat belt use in the five other cases.
The deaths included four victims younger than age 14, two of them drivers and two passengers, and seven ages 14 to 17, four of whom were drivers, the patrol said.
Gerhart said the age group with the highest number of deaths was the 25- to 34-year-old group with 19 deaths, of which 10 involved alcohol.
“The alcohol-related fatalities are around that 50 percent mark or just below every year,” said Sgt. Aaron Hummel, of the Highway Patrol office in Grand Forks. “In the Highway Patrol, we have increased the DUI arrests the past five to 10 years every year. So at the enforcement level, we are doing a good job in trying to curtail alcohol-related accidents.”
The patrol also is training officers to become better at recognizing drivers impaired by drugs or other substances, Hummel said.