Fewer people died on Utah highways in 1988 than a decade earlier, the state Department of Public Safety says.

A compilation of fatal crashes released this week shows 298 people were killed in traffic accidents during 1988. That compares with 376 in 1978, the department statistics show.Last month, 16 people were killed in accidents during December, two fewer than December 1987. The 10-year average for the month is 22.

Law enforcement officials credit Utah's mandatory seat belt and child restraint device laws for the drop in highway deaths.

YEAR TOTAL YEAR TOTAL

1978 376 1984 315

1979 328 1985 303

1980 335 1986 313

1981 364 1987 297

1982 296 1988 298

1983 283