CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sgt. Chris Zerkle says traffic deaths have dropped since the West Virginia State Police bumped up patrols on the state's roads and highways.
Zerkle, director of traffic records for the State Police, said deaths on West Virginia highways in 2013 are set to be the fewest since 2010.
"Our fatalities have gone down over the past few years," Zerkle said. He attributes the drop to increased patrols paid for with state and federal grant money.
Every year, the State Police gets grant money to pay for overtime to put more troopers on the roads. Zerkle passes the money out to local State Police detachments for different highway safety blitzes.
Zerkle likes to time the blitzes to coincide with holidays or other high-traffic times, when there are more people on the roads and more chances for accidents. During the last blitz, which Zerkle dubbed "Operation Turkey Bake," troopers wrote nearly 1,200 speeding tickets, issued 470 warnings and made 44 arrests for driving under the influence.
During the blitz, which ran from Nov. 27 through Dec. 1, there were 93 collisions on West Virginia's highways and two people were killed.
Zerkle thinks the extra road patrols are helping reduce the accident and death rates.
"People who are driving 75 mph, if they see a trooper, they're going to slow down a little bit," he said. "The focus is on traffic safety."