Despite a rash of recent high-profile accident deaths on Long Island roads, statistics reveal that traffic fatalities in the area have been on the decline for the past three years.

On the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway in Suffolk County, this year has only seen three fatalities versus nine last year. “This year is not over and I hate to tempt fate, but yes, it is way down,” said Michael Sharkey, chief of staff for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. For the first 10 months in the rest of the county, fatal accidents dropped from 120 in 2008 to 88 this year.

Sharkey noted that inclement weather could lead to more accidents: A harsher winter will typically yield more traffic deaths.

Chris Mistron, chairman of the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board, said there were “positive trends.” After tallying 104 fatalities in 2008 and 103 in 2009, he expected a lower number this year. Through the end of October, he’s counted only 56 accidents — compared to 85 over in that span the previous year.

Authorities are citing targeted enforcement against aggressive, distracted or unsafe drivers.

What gives?

Suffolk County’s Sharkey said that authorities have been “proactive in their enforcement efforts,” aided by grants to ensure seat belt use and combat aggressive driving.

Mistron said that a red light camera program lessened deadly right-angle, or “t-bone,” crashes.