While Minnesota traffic fatality rates increased this year, Watonwan County reported a decrease in traffic fatalities, according to reports from the Department of Public Safety.
Traffic deaths in Minnesota increased to a preliminary figure of 378 in 2012, but DPS is projecting a final number at about 390 to be released in the early summer of 2013. This is up about six percent from last year and is attributed to an early spring which attracted motorcyclists, faster speeds and riskier driving.
“We can’t forget the victims lost in these crashes, they are the reasons and reminders we all need to commit to safe driving behaviors in 2013,” says Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director.
Results on fatalities occurring from individuals driving intoxicated have not yet been released, but annually drunk drivers account for nearly one third of Minnesota’s traffic fatalities.
Preliminary DWI information indicates at least 300 people were arrested for DWI on New Year’s Eve. One fatal crash did occur near Deer Creek, Minn., though it is unclear whether alcohol was a factor in that accident. There have been no alcohol related fatal accidents in Minnesota during the last four New Year’s celebrations.
“New Year’s remains a major celebration, and many people still put lives at risk on the holiday by making the dangerous decision to drink and drive,” says Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving coordinator. “Those who did not plan ahead for a sober ride and were arrested face serious consequences.”
South Central Minnesota reported zero fatalities and zero DWI’s over the New Year’s weekend – with 18 fatal crashes resulting in 20 deaths and 157 DWI’s throughout 2012.