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Fewer fatals: Vehicular deaths drop in county, state

Fewer people died on Wyoming and Park County roads in 2013 than in previous years.

Park County had one fatal crash last year — down from five deaths in 2012 —  while the state as a whole saw 87 deaths. For Wyoming, the figures represented 34 fewer deaths than the year before and the lowest number since 1945.

The state also experienced the fewest number of impaired driving deaths in two decades.

“Ultimately, individual responsibility and people recognizing the dangers of driving in an impaired fashion — we need to continue to spread that message, but it was a very good news story last year in terms of fewer deaths overall and fewer impaired driving deaths,” Gov. Matt Mead told Wyoming media at a Friday news conference.

Leaders with the Wyoming Highway Patrol — whose top priority is reducing highway fatalities — say it’s hard to pinpoint any one thing that resulted in the drop in deaths. They suggest several factors, including the patrol’s education and awareness efforts, high-visibility

traffic enforcement by local and state police during major holidays and highway safety initiatives by DUI Task Forces, the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Governor’s Council On Impaired Driving.

“Motorists and their passengers can also take credit,” Wyoming Highway Patrol Sgt. Steven Townsend said in a statement, noting the number of crashes involving people who weren’t wearing seat belts dropped 23.8 percent over the previous year.

The statistics reflect all fatal crashes investigated by city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies on public roadways.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol plans to join a broader campaign to “Drive To Zero Deaths,” which includes a goal to reduce highway fatalities in each state and Canadian province by 15 percent in 2014.

Townsend said a zero-death initiative might seem unrealistic, but he said one traffic fatality is still too many.

“The Wyoming Highway Patrol continues its commitment to saving lives even beyond the numbers observed during 2013,” Patrol Administrator Col. John Butler said in a statement.

Park County had zero fatalities in 2011 before the five in 2012.

Over in Big Horn County, there were three fatal crashes that resulted in seven deaths last year — up from four deaths that resulted from four crashes in 2012.

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