DPS reports 5 traffic deaths in Mower County last year

Published 10:45 am Monday, January 7, 2013

Preliminary reports from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety show an increase in traffic-related deaths in Mower County last year.

There were five Mower County traffic deaths in 2012, up from two traffic deaths in 2011, according to a DPS report released last week.

Traffic deaths also increased throughout the state last year compared to 2011, as preliminary numbers show 378 people died in crashes on the roads in 2012 compared to 368 people in 2011. This marks the first increase in about five years, according to the department’s Office of Traffic Safety.

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The final total won’t be known until final crash reports are submitted, but could be around 390. That would be a 6 percent increase from 2011, when there were 368 traffic deaths statewide — the lowest number since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction from a decade ago.

Nearby Freeborn County reported three traffic deaths in 2012, compared to two in 2011, while Steele County reported no change in traffic deaths, with two in 2012 and two in 2011.

Officials expect common traffic safety issues will again be the primary contributing factors for the 2012 deaths: drunk driving, not using seatbelts, and distracted driving.

Alcohol-related crashes account for more than one-third of the state’s total death count. In 2011, there were 111 drunk driving-related deaths, 20 fewer than 2010 and the lowest death count on record since being tracked in 1984.

The number of drunk driving-related deaths for 2012 won’t be known until later this year. Preliminary numbers show that 26,628 motorists were arrested for DWI during 2012, compared to 29,918 in 2011.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.