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Traffic deaths down in 2013, stats include area fatalities

ST. PAUL — The number of deaths on Minnesota roads decreased in 2013 and, since 2004, traffic fatalities are down 34 percent.

According to preliminary reports from the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, there were 375 traffic fatalities in 2013, down from 395 in 2012.

In the past decade, Minnesota traffic fatalities have decreased sharply, from 567 in 2004 to 375 last year.

The fatalities include six fatalities in Meeker County, four deaths each in Chippewa and Renville counties, two deaths each in Kandiyohi and Yellow Medicine counties, one fatality in Swift County. There were no deaths in 2013 on the roadways of Lac qui Parle County.

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 will again be the primary contributing factors for the 2013 deaths — drunk driving, seat belt non-use, speeding and distracted driving.

“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, bucking 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 and 278 motorists — down from 293 in 2012.

According to preliminary reports, 23,800 motorists were arrested for DWI in 2013. This count will grow as alcohol-concentration and crash data are finalized for 2013 drunk driving deaths that will be reported later this year. In 2012, there were 28,418 impaired driving incidents and 131 drunk driving-related deaths.