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For First Time in Years, State Traffic Deaths Dropped in 2006

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Aired 4/19/09

Traffic deaths in California are down more than nine percent for 2006. The Highway Patrol says it's the biggest decrease in over a decade. From Sacramento, Marianne Russ reports.

CHP Officer Steve Day gets called to the very worst accidents. He's part of a special team that investigates how crashes happen -- and says he hopes the nine percent drop in traffic deaths last year is part of a new trend.

Day : I would love to be out of a job tomorrow, personally.

CHP Commissioner Mike Brown says this is the first time in several years there's been a decrease at all. He attributes it to more public education and enforcement efforts in three main areas.

Day : That's principally, folks, what kills people in this state: speed, not wearing a seatbelt, or driving under the influence.

Brown says they'll continue their efforts and hope to bring the numbers down even more. He adds the number of people buckling up has increased -- it's up to 93.4 percent overall -- and for the first time, is over 90 percent in teens. Marianne Russ, KPBS News.

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