Zerkle said 345 people died in traffic accidents in West Virginia in 2008. That number was 336 in 2009, 294 in 2010, 315 in 2011 and 324 in 2012.
So far, 292 people have died on the state's highways this year. Zerkle hopes there aren't more.
"We're not here to write tickets to get more money," he said. "We're here for safety."
Zerkle said the State Police got $700,000 in grant money this year for extra patrols. The figure includes about $115,000 in extra funding Zerkle asked for to combat texting while driving and drivers not wearing seat belts, both of which are now primary offenses in West Virginia.
He said it might sound like a lot of money, but the funds are split among eight different troops around the state, each of which might be responsible for half a dozen counties. He said the State Police have about 400 road troopers responsible for the entire state.
Zerkle said it can sometimes be difficult to find enough troopers to make up the extra road patrols, particularly in smaller counties where only two or three troopers may be working.
"This is overtime money," he said. "The troopers are working on their day off or after they've completed their shift.
"If I had the manpower, it's hard to tell what I could do," Zerkle said.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.