Fatal traffic crashes in Jackson County dropped nearly 40 percent last year, creating the lowest number in decades, according the National Safety Council.

Fatal traffic crashes in Jackson County dropped nearly 40 percent last year, creating the lowest number in decades, according the National Safety Council.

Fourteen crashes in the county resulted in the deaths of 16 people in 2009, down from 26 in 2008.

Young male drivers were the most likely to both cause and be killed in the fatal crashes, the data showed. Of the 16 deaths, 15 victims were male. Of the drivers at fault, 13 were male. Drugs and alcohol were involved in 50 percent of the crashes.

"That's the norm across the nation," said Sgt. Marty Clark, supervisor of the traffic team at the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. "I think that age, especially with males, take more risks and some of those risks are driving fast. And when we add alcohol to it, bad things happen."

The study comes out just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, a prime time for travel and traffic accidents, he said.

"We're stepping up patrols over the weekend," Clark said. "We are doing a DUI saturation along with Medford and OSP and other agencies."

Nationwide traffic statistics saw a 10 percent decrease on overall traffic deaths.

— Sanne Specht