Fewer deaths on the highway over holiday weekend but more accidents

The number of traffic accidents in Northern Arizona more than doubled for the Thanksgiving weekend from last year, though the number of fatalities was almost half of the deaths in 2000.

From Wednesday through Sunday, there were 125 traffic accidents on Northern Arizona highways.

Of those accidents, there were five fatalities in Northern Arizona.

Last year, there were 58 traffic accidents and nine fatalities, according to Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Mark Hall.

An elderly Kingman couple was among the weekend's traffic fatalities.

The couple died in an accident on Highway 68 in Golden Valley on Thanksgiving Day.

Because of the Sept.

11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., Hall believes more people were driving than flying during the holiday weekend, increasing the number of traffic accidents.

The decrease in fatalities may be because people are more concerned for safety after the New York City attacks.

"People are in a state of awareness," Hall said.

"More people are wearing seat belts, driving the speed limit and not drinking and driving.

The whole country is in a state of awareness."

Though the number of people killed was half of what it was last year, the number of injured was five times as many as 2000.

Over the holiday weekend, 50 of the accidents involved injuries.

In 2000, only 10 of the 58 accidents involved injuries.

DPS Sgt.

Ron DeLong believes, partly because of the Sept.

11 attacks, more people are wearing seat belts than before, therefore more people are surviving but being injured in crashes.

The number of drunk driving arrests also dropped in half.

There were 27 DUI arrests during the holiday weekend.

In 2000, there were 44 DUI arrests.

One reason for the drop off of DUI arrests may be that in Mohave County, two local DPS officers are assigned to restrict commercial traffic on Highway 93 at Hoover Dam to protect the dam from terrorist attacks, DeLong said.

Another reason may be because the increased number of serious accidents during the holiday weekend, that pulled more officers off the highways rather than patrolling for drunken drivers.

"It takes two to three hours to clean up after a serious accident," DeLong said.

DeLong also said there was a lot more traffic than usual, even on Thanksgiving Day.

In September, Arizona DUI law became tougher, dropping from 0.10 to a 0.08 blood alcohol level.

Extreme DUI limits also become tougher with the limit at 0.15 blood alcohol level from the previous level of 0.18.