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Traffic deaths on 5-year downward trend; booze, drugs in most

May 7, 2017 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Last in a series

A comparison of data records shows traffic fatalities have fallen in Fremont County over recent years.

DUI deaths

From 2006 to 2010 there were 157 total motor vehicle accidents, 55 total homicides, 44 total DUI accidents and 28 DUI homicides.

The coroner's office defines a DUI accident as involving an impaired driver who dies while operating a motor vehicle.

From 2011 to 2015 there were 146 total motor vehicle accidents, 57 total homicides, 19 total DUI accidents and 21 total DUI homicides.

In Fremont County, from 2006 to 2016, 61 percent - or 113 of the 185 motor vehicle deaths reported - involved drugs and or alcohol.

Director of Injury Prevention Resources, Noel Cooper provided the data to the Riverton City Council recently to relay the positive changes in Fremont County drivers.

While community outreach remains a priority, Cooper said it was still important to note the changes a community experiences when friends or family members are lost in traffic fatalities.

"Thinking of all these people we lost, it's easy to see them as numbers, but it's harder to remember that they're people, and they're mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and uncles and aunts," Cooper said. "There's a big ripple effect anytime we lose anybody in the community."

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people ages 5-35.

Traffic crashes

The Wyoming Department of Transporta-tion reported that in 2015, there were 145 fatalities and roughly 3,800 injured people.

That year created an estimated economic loss to the state of about $21 million.

In the county, there were 15 motor vehicle fatalities in 2015. All 15 involved unrestrained individuals, and 12 out of 15 involved people who were impaired.

WYDOT reported that, in the county, 76 percent of drivers wear their seat belts, while 61 percent of passengers wear seat belts. Also, about 91 percent of Fremont County residents believe drinking and driving is a serious or somewhat serious problem.

WYDOT also reported that in 2011 there were 11 fatal crashes in the county. In 2015, there were 15 total fatal crashes. In 2011, there were 13 fatalities while there were 17 in 2015. There were 171 injury crashes in 2011, while there were 124 in 2015.

About 250 people were injured in traffic crashes in 2011. In 2015, 200 people were injured.

Partners

While comparing the statistics for the county, Cooper said his group also realized that the numbers are decreasing for the state as well. He noted that the decreases are supported by the improving partnerships established over the years and events held that push for awareness.

"It reaffirms the work that we do and the programs that we do," he said, adding, "The biggest part of it, hands down, is not the work that we do but the work that we do with a full community that's engaged in this."

IPR works with dozens of agencies in the county. IPR also brought back popular annual events including "Life RU Ready?" for which IPR joins several local schools districts, prevention agencies, law enforcement, legal counsel, the coroner's office, health care agencies, youth volunteers and others to create a life-simulation health fair for teens and pre-teens designed to increase awareness of the consequences of behavior, to decrease motivation to participate in risk-taking behavior, and to provide new opportunities for parent-teen communication.

"It takes so much engagement," Cooper said. "We're excited to keep continuing with the program we do."

Other events include Battle of the Belts, Bike Safety Rodeos, Wind River Summer Safety, Car Seat Check events and check stations, Operation Safe Kids, a driving simulator, Gift of a Mother's Love, National Teen Driver Safety week, Wet Lab and Prime for Life.

Cooper commended the media partners they also work with consistently. In addition, he praised the Riverton Police Department which he said has increased its involvement with IPR.

"In last five years, we have seen an amazing shift in engaging on the front-end of it and understanding that if we can put education out there and if we can hold people accountable to their actions these numbers are bound to drive down," Cooper said.

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2017-10-22

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