Fatal wrecks up in 2011

Published 12:06 am Saturday, December 24, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Miss-Lou has seen more traffic fatalities this year than last year.

Fatal crashes have actually seen a one-third decline since 2005, but the Mississippi Highway Patrol is predicting the state will see 655 fatal crashes by year’s end, up from 641 in 2010.

In 2011, six of the fatal crashes in southwest Mississippi involved alcohol. Sixty-six people were injured in alcohol-related driving accidents.

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Louisiana State Police Troop E Public Information Officer Scott Moreau said that as of Dec. 20, the troop has investigated 67 crashes that involved 71 fatalities for 2011.

That’s up from 61 crashes resulting in 67 fatalities in 2010. This year, three fatal crashes have occurred in Concordia Parish.

To keep the number of fatalities in 2011 from going any higher, the MHP will be stepping up patrols during the holiday weekend.

“We want families traveling for the holidays to arrive at their destinations safely, and we want them returning home with no problems as well,” MHP Director Col. Donnell Berry said.

The highway patrol and state troopers won’t be the only ones watching to keep the roads safe. Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said deputies will be extra vigilant in the enforcement of speed limits, seat belt and child safety laws and drunk driving regulations.

“This is a wonderful time of the year for everyone, but we know that the holidays always mean a lot more traffic, as well as more parties,” Maxwell said. “It’s imperative that motorists watch their speed and buckle up. It’s also vital that they have a designated driver if they plan to drink alcohol during the season’s many festivities.”

The sheriff said consuming alcohol or even legal prescription drugs can impair driver’s ability to operate motor vehicles.

“The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office wants to get the word out that impaired driving is a violent and, all too often, deadly crime that we can’t afford to overlook in our community,” Maxwell said.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said deputies would be conducting business as usual, making neighborhood patrols, assisting holiday travelers if they need it and keeping an eye open for unsafe driving.

“We hope that all holiday travelers drive safely and responsibly, and that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year in the days ahead,” he said.