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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The percentage of Utah's highway deaths in which alcohol is believed to have been a factor has reached a 20-year low.
"Utah has done some good things. The impaired driver is not out there in as great a force as in years past," said Sgt. Daniel Fuhr, who leads the Utah Highway Patrol's Driving Under the Influence Squad.
According to preliminary data from the Utah Highway Safety Office, 16 percent of 2002's fatal traffic accidents involved alcohol. Nationally, the figure is 42 percent.
The previous year, 23 percent of the Utah fatalities were alcohol-related.
Fuhr credits law enforcement and educational programs for Utah's steady decrease in alcohol-related accidents, but says there still are too many drunk drivers.
"The day we don't arrest any drunks is a good day, but we are not there now," he said. "We are far from there."
Utah also has traditionally had a low number of alcohol-involved traffic deaths because of the state's high Mormon population and the strong opposition to alcohol by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)