In 1984, 16 people lost their lives in Ogden due to traffic accidents. Of those, 13 were alcohol-related.
Last year, four people died in traffic accidents and none were alcohol-related.Ogden Police Sgt. Burl Malmborg believes the decline in traffic accidents and alcohol-related traffic deaths is due to a law enforcement crackdown on alcohol offenses and seat-belt violations.
"We've beefed up our traffic enforcement," said Malmborg. "We've concentrated real heavily on our alcohol enforcement."
Six officers are now assigned full time to go after drunken drivers, drivers with open containers and those not wearing seat belts. Foot-patrol officers are now more stringently enforcing laws against public intoxication and underage drinking. Malmborg said the combination has decreased traffic fatalities in Ogden.
Malmborg said that in January 1990, officers began cracking down on people who weren't wearing seat belts. He estimates that about three years ago, only 10 percent of Ogden's drivers wore seat belts. He believes about 50 percent are now buckling up.
"That prevents deaths," he continued. "If it's a seat-belt citation I issue, then I feel I'm going to save a life."
And according to the Utah Department of Health, seat-belt use on Weber County's highways jumped almost 20 percent in one year, going from 61 percent using seat belts in 1989, to 80 percent in 1990.
Malmborg said he believes his crackdown on alcohol-related violations such as carrying of open containers and drinking by minors has also had an effect on lowering the number of people killed on local streets.
To back up his claims, records show that in 1984, 16 people were killed in traffic accidents, 13 alcohol-related; 1985, 10 deaths, 4 alcohol-related; 1986, five fatals, three involved alcohol; 1987, 10 deaths, three alcohol-related; 1988, nine deaths, two involved alcohol; 1989, eight fatals, four alcohol-related; and 1990, four fatals, none involved alcohol.
Malmborg said that a crackdown on drunk drivers has helped the traffic division officers meet their goals by keeping drunks from driving and in turn, saving lives.
Statistics also show that Ogden police arrested or issued citations to 245 people for open containers between July 1, 1989, to the same time the following year, and arrested or gave tickets to 1,471 others for public intoxication.
Also, Malmborg said that last year, police wrote 10,692 traffic citations, and of 2,784 traffic accidents, 2,651 involved citations.
The sergeant said that drunken-driving arrests are also on the decline, going from 605 arrests in 1988, to 541 arrests in 1989, and to 537 in 1990. "They're (drunken drivers) getting harder to find," he said.
"Our efforts in making arrests and issuing citations are saving lives," added Malmborg. "We're just tickled to death this year."