(Fargo, ND) -- 2022 has been a busy year for the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Sergeant Adam Malafa caught up with News Director Kyle Cornell on WDAY Midday to break down the numbers from an eventful year on state roadways, and to talk about some trends that are concerning him and the department moving into 2023.
"Total fatalities from 2022 with a few days left in the year are at 100," said Malafa. "The difference from this year to last year has been the overall number of actual crashes that resulted in fatalities. In 2021, we saw 85 fatal crashes, whereas in 2022 we are at 98 fatality crashes."
While the 100 deaths are on-par with the last few years in North Dakota, Sergeant Malafa says the bigger concern comes down to a pair of trends he says are on the increase in the state.
"This year fatal crashes involving the person driving not wearing a seatbelt sits at about 54%. That is increasing at a rate that is concerning for us," said Malafa, who added focusing on getting North Dakota drivers buckled up will continue to be a main objective from the NDHP moving into next year. "Also, motorcycle crashes are up significantly compared to 2021. We've had 21 motorcycle crashes this year, while there was just eight last year." Sergeant Malafa says there really isn't a tell-tale sign as to why the motorcycle crashes jumped, other than weather being a bit nicer and more people looking to get outside now that we are in the closing stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But what about the New Year's Holiday? You can bet an increased presence will be felt over the upcoming holiday weekend by law enforcement all across North Dakota, but Sergeant Malafa says this is an area where he's noticed a positive trend.
"We're seeing more and more people use taxis, ride sharing companies and even designated drivers for New Years," said Malafa. "When you're able to plan ahead for a night out like this, we usually see things go a bit smoother. Either way, we want everyone to know we'll be out and about doing our job to try and keep you safe nevertheless."