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Preliminary report: State traffic deaths down

ng to preliminary reports issued last week by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the number of deaths on Minnesota roads decreased in 2013 — a continuation of a trend that has seen traffic fatalities decline by 34 percent since 2004.

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The preliminary report states that there were 375 traffic fatalities in 2013, a decrease of 20 from 395 in 2012, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

“I think part of it has to do with new laws that are in place — like not wearing a seat belt is now a primary offense — but I think people changing their driving habits is a big part of it, too,” said Josh McCuen, the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) coordinator for the Worthington Police Department.

In the past decade, Minnesota traffic fatalities have decreased sharply, from 567 in 2004 to 375 last year. DPS projects 2013’s final total— available in early summer as additional crash reports are submitted — to be approximately 385.

Officials expect four common traffic safety issues — drunk driving, seat belt non-use, speeding and distracted driving — will again be the primary contributing factors for the 2013 deaths.

“Within TZD we use the four “E’s”, McCuen explained. “Engineering – modifying or reconstructing roadways that can be time consuming; enforcement; emergency medical services; and education to work towards zero deaths. I think we do our best to try and change people’s driving habits by using those methods.”

“Despite last year’s dip in traffic fatalities, these numbers still reflect far too many victims who have lost their lives on our roads,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “We continue to encourage all drivers to make good decisions about driving sober, buckling up, slowing down, and eliminating distractions.”

The preliminary traffic death count includes:

* 31 pedestrians, down from 40 in 2012

* Six bicyclists, down from seven in 2012

* 60 motorcyclists, up from 55 in 2012

* 278 motorists, down from 293 in 2012

The deadliest months in 2013 were July (52 fatalities), September (50) and November (38). The months with the fewest fatalities were January (16), March (22) and December (22).

According to the preliminary report for 2013 in Nobles County, four motorists were killed in the past year.

“This count also includes Interstate 90, so it’s not always necessarily people in Worthington,” McCuen said. “But again, no matter what, we just remind people to buckle up, slow down and find a sober driver.”

The DPS also conducted preliminary DWI results. According to preliminary reports, 23,800 motorists were arrested for DWI in 2013.

In 2012, there were 28,418 impaired driving incidents and 131 drunk driving-related deaths.

This count will grow as alcohol-concentration and crash data are finalized for 2013 drunk driving deaths that will be reported later this year.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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