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2007 traffic deaths same as last year
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The same number of people died on Hall County’s public roads in 2007 as the previous year, though it remained a serious reduction from the record number of fatal accidents reached in 2005.

According to accident data maintained by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, 20 people died in traffic accidents in the county in the past year, including three fatal accidents in the city of Gainesville. That number does not reflect four fatal accidents that occurred on private property, including a Dec. 29 all-terrain vehicle crash that killed sheriff’s Sgt. James Evans.

The three most prevalent contributing factors in fatal accidents over the past year were speeding, failure to yield and DUI, Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said.

The 20 road deaths in 2007 and 2006 were nearly 50 percent lower than the all-time high of 36 recorded in 2005.

Law enforcement efforts that include concentrated traffic patrols and a strategy of targeting aggressive drivers are only part of the equation, officials say.

"While we like to think we have some impact on the reduction in accidents, one of the main factors is the drivers themselves are using more care and more caution," Strickland said.

Gainesville Police Sgt. Dean Staples pointed to a high rate of seat belt usage among motorists as one reason the number of fatal accidents was relatively low in the city limits, which had four fatal accidents in 2006 and three in 2007. The last survey put seat belt usage at 94 percent, he said.

"We’re running one of the highest seat belt percentages in the state," Staples said.

Of the 20 road deaths in Hall County in 2007, none occurred in Oakwood, Flowery Branch or Braselton.

The number of traffic accidents overall has remained relatively stable in the past two years. In 2006, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Oakwood Police Department and Georgia State Patrol investigated a combined 4,280 wrecks, compared with 4,250 investigated through November 2007, Strickland said.

The Gainesville Police Department had investigated 1,672 traffic accidents through November 2007, Staples said.

The ages of those killed ranged from 17 to 86. Of the 20 who died in accidents, 17 were men. The driver was found to be at fault in 12 of the accidents.

Only one fatal accident happened between midnight and 6 a.m. There were seven road deaths between 6 a.m. and noon, five between noon and 6 p.m., and seven between 6 p.m. and midnight.