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Dec 26, 2011 9:23 AM by AP

Fatal wrecks up in 2011

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - More people along the Mississippi and Louisiana areas were killed on state highways in 2011.

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, the Democrat (http://bit.ly/vI7nKn ) reports six of the fatal crashes in southwest Mississippi involved alcohol. Sixty-six people were injured in alcohol-related driving accidents.

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 higher, the MHP stepped 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.

Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said deputies there were 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."

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