Missouri motorists have made it through the  last big travel weekend of the summer with fatality numbers finally going the right direction.

Drivers got off to a terrible start for traffic fatalities this year and at one point in March and April the numbers were a tragic twenty percent higher than they were at the same time in 2013.  But the trend began to reverse itself and at the halfway point, the fatality numbers were only two percent ahead of those for last year.

Patrol Captain Tim Hull says the numbers have stayed pretty even through the rest of the summer and have held at a zero percent year-to-year change, fluctuating from a few points above and a few below last year’s numbers.

Hull says much of the big increase earlier this year was attributable to the mild weather that put more vehicles on the road more often – especially motorcyclists who had a bad first quarter of 2014.

Through Labor day, the fatality count this year is 479, four fewer than last year at this time, thanks to five fewer traffic deaths this Labor Day than Labor Day ’13.

But there are still two major traveling holidays to go – Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving is usually the most dangerous because it’s always a four-day holiday.  However, Christmas will be an extended holiday this year, too, with Christmas Day on a Thursday. Hull hopes that by then Missouri drivers will have made a noticeable reduction in roadway deaths. The goal is to reduce the number for the eighth time in nine years.  Last year’s total, 756, was the lowest since  1949.

AUDIO: Hull interview 1:46