COLUMBIA — During this holiday season, the Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated more crashes on Missouri highways than this time last year.
The Highway Patrol counts the Christmas holiday period from 6 p.m. Friday to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. During that time, the patrol investigated 239 traffic crashes and reported 91 injuries. Troopers arrested 130 people on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a Highway Patrol news release said.
Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull said many reasons contributed to the increase, including that this year's holiday period was one day longer than last year.
"Sometimes the counting period can vary in length depending on if Christmas falls on the weekend, beginning of the week or middle of the week," Hull said.
The patrol also stepped up enforcement during the holiday period by setting up sobriety checkpoints and patrolling roadways, Hull said.
As for injuries and traffic crashes, Hull said those occur for many different reasons. Some of the holiday's bad weather, drivers' inattention and drivers not wearing their seat belts may have all contributed to the increase in crashes and injuries, he said.
The Highway Patrol reported two fatalities during the holiday period, both of which occurred in the Springfield area.
On Saturday, Brandy M. Acheson, 38, of Sarcoxie, died when the vehicle she was driving crossed the center of the roadway and struck an oncoming vehicle head-on. On Sunday, William D. Pope, 36, of Springfield, died when the vehicle he was driving traveled off the north side of the roadway and struck a fence and tree.
During the 2011 holiday period, five people died in traffic crashes.The Highway Patrol investigated 213 accidents, reported 67 injuries and arrested 56 people on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.