The Wyoming Highway Patrol’s efforts in enforcement and education, and other safety initiatives resulted in the traffic deaths dropping in 2009.
The state had 134 traffic fatalities, a 16-percent decrease from 2008 which had 159 deaths. The total number of crashes involving a fatality also dropped to 116 in 2009, a 17-percent decrease from 2008’s figure of 140 fatal crashes.
Several factors went into the decreases including a reduction in the number of commercial carrier crashes, multivehicle crashes and alcohol-related crashes, said Col. Sam Powell, of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. The variable speed limit signs along I-80 between Rawlins and Laramie also have helped because the speed limit can be lowered if there are severe weather conditions.
“These results are promising because they show we’re on the right path,” said Col. Sam Powell, of the WHP. “This is a direct reflection on the commitment and dedication of our people.”
WYDOT Director John Cox agreed.
“Our death rate is one of the lowest in the nation,” Cox said. “I think the efforts of the Patrol statewide and along the I-80 corridor combined with enforcement and better weather last winter helped reduce our death rate.”
Each year, Patrol sets goals as part of its Strategic Plan as a way to measure how the agency is performing from year to year. Reducing the number of fatalities, commercial vehicle fatalities and impaired driver fatalities are just a few of the goals Patrol set.
“We took a strong stance with commercial vehicle violations,” Powell said, adding that there’s a zero-tolerance policy for reckless driving, speeding and other infractions.
Patrol also ensures violations aren’t being made by commercial vehicles by inspecting those vehicles at the Port of Entry stations. Drivers also have to have the ability to communicate in English so they can read the traffic signs and be able to follow the rules of the road.
Reducing the number of commercial vehicle violations not only has reduced commercial vehicle crashes, but also multivehicle crashes, Powell said.
“If a vehicle hits an icy patch, one of the vehicles involved in a multivehicle crash typically is a commercial vehicle,” Powell said. “Commercial vehicle and multivehicle crashes are tied together.”
Although the fatality rate is down, Powell said Patrol is going to continue to work hard to keep those numbers low.
“We’re not going to let up. We’re not going to rest on our laurels. We’re going to continue to work hard. We want the traveling public to make the right decisions so they don’t become a statistic,” he said.