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


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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