ANCHORAGE - The number of traffic deaths involving drugs or alcohol is up sharply in Anchorage with the city on its way to the highest rate of impaired road fatalities in more than a decade.
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The finding is at odds with recent trends statewide. There has been an overall decline throughout the state in the number of drunken driving fatalities since 2000. Now, Anchorage is seeing a surge following a relative lull during the past two years.
The percent of traffic deaths that involved impaired drivers or victims this year in Anchorage is at its highest level since 1996, when 92 percent of the city's fatalities were connected to drugs and alcohol.
Prior to this year, alcohol-related fatalities in Anchorage had been on the decline, Anchorage police Lt. Paul Honeman said. He attributed those declines to increased enforcement and education, as well as police bringing back the traffic unit. He said he hoped the surge was an anomaly.
Alaska, with 23 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2006, had the fewest of all states, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.