Highway Fatalities Drop

The number of highway fatalities is down across the Lone Star State and the Texas Department of Transportation says they know why.

They're attributing last year's 11 percent drop from 2008 to public safety campaigns like Click It or Ticket, and safer roads.

Wichita County saw a 55 percent drop between 2008 and 2009.  Nine people died last year in traffic accidents down from 20 the previous year.  Decreases like that one are happening across the state.

Drivers are hitting the road with more distractions than ever but even so the number of highway fatalities is down.

"This year we've seen an 11 percent decrease in fatalities from 2008 to 2009," said TXDOT Spokeswoman Adele Lewis.

The number of deaths from 2009 were just above 3,000.  388 fewer lives were lost than the year before.  The Texas Department of Transportation credits that fall to a number of factors.

"Public campaigns to get rid of drunk driving or texting and driving have contributed and we are also using law enforcement more regularly to have them out on the road more often," said Lewis.

We told drivers about the numbers and got their take on why fatalities are down.

"The seat belt law," said a mother of five.

"The seat belts have been around for a long time I think that maybe they're cracking down
 on that some," said one woman.

Not only are officers cracking down on seatbelt violators but 93 percent of Texans are just buckling up, and now we're beginning to see where the 1.2 billion dollars TXDOT dedicated towards highway projects is going.  For instance roads are wider than ever.

"They're at least 9 feet wide even on county roads and our interstate roads go up to 12
 feet wide lanes," said Lewis.

Many highway lanes now have some kind of barrier in the center preventing cars from crossing over into opposing lanes.

"Every life is important to us whether it's one or one hundred."

In the nine counties the Wichita Falls district covers fatalities have dropped from 52 in 2008 to 46 in 2009.

This is a trend extending beyond Texas borders.  From August of last year to this month Oklahoma has seen the number of people killed in traffic accidents decrease by 133 deaths.