Just when Utah highway safety officials were thinking that the new drunken-driving laws were working, and that the Highway Patrol's "Arrive Alive" investment was paying dividends, along comes July 1988.

Fifty people died on the highways in July, the highest number of traffic deaths in a single month since July 1977, when 58 people died in traffic mishaps. Of those 50, about 20 are estimated to be alcohol-related, said John Dame, of the Utah Highway Safety Office.The Arrive Alive campaign, started on Memorial Day 1987, consists of educating the public about the importance of proper speed, driving sober, wearing seat belts and being courteous.

Officials were encouraged by the campaign because fatalities dipped to 297 in 1987, well below average. This year's total fatalities are up, however, and could reach 320, based on the current 1988 monthly average.

July was the biggest disappointment because 33 deaths would be average for that month.

Dame doesn't know what happened. "Summertime is always bad. More miles are being driven. People drive faster. It's hard to say what happened."