Traffic deaths down in Minnesota, not in Mower County

Published 6:36 am Monday, November 2, 2009

While traffic deaths are down statewide since the start of a prevention campaign six years ago, the same does not hold true in Mower County.

Since 2003, when the state launched its Toward Zero Deaths campaign, traffic related fatalities have declined by 30 percent, according to a Minnesota Department of Public Safety news release issued Wednesday as officials convene in Duluth for a safety conference this week.

But in Mower County, the number has stayed pretty static — there were four deaths in both 2003 and 2008, and the highest total during the span was five in 2006.

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In 2008, there were 455 traffic deaths statewide — the lowest number since 1945 and an 11 percent drop from the year before, according to the state’s public safety department.

The trend is continuing in 2009, as there have been 337 traffic deaths to date, which is down from 352 at this time last year.

Officials attribute the decline to various factors, including 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration legislation and the new primary seat belt law, which went into effect earlier this year.

Despite the decline, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety still notes that traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 2 and 34.

Between 2006 and 2008, 1,459 people died on Minnesota roads and thousands more suffered serious injuries, the department reports.