Louisiana highway deaths down

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State officials say highway deaths in Louisiana fell for the fourth consecutive time last year.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reported Thursday a total of 676 people died in traffic crashes in 2011, a drop of 44 from 2010 and a reduction of about one-third since 2007.

In addition, 72 people ages 18-24 died in crashes, a drop of 19 from the previous year and down from 134 who died in 2007.

The report said alcohol was a factor in 41% of the fatal crashes in 2011, down from 45% in 2007.

Authorities made 29,922 DWI arrests last year, up from 25,570 in 2007.

Officials also credited increased seat belt usage - 79% this year - for the improved traffic picture.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.