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DPS releases 2008 Minnesota crash data

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The 455 traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in 2008 were the lowest on record since 1945 and an 11 percent drop from the 510 deaths in 2007.

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The Minnesota Department of Public Safety last week released its annual summary of traffic crashes. The entire report, Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2008, is online at www.dps.state.mn.us/ots.

According to the report:

- The state recorded the lowest number of alcohol-related traffic deaths ever (163), but alcohol-related crashes still accounted for 36 percent of all fatalities.

- Of the 325 vehicle occupants killed, 147 were belted. More than half were not, and of those, 64 percent were ejected.

- There were 72 motorcyclist fatalities, the biggest rider death count since 1985.

- There were 31 teenager deaths, down from 41 in 2007.

- There were 13 bicyclist deaths in 2008, the highest fatal count since 2000, when 14 were killed.

- There were 25 pedestrian deaths, down from 33 in 2007.

- Geographically, 136 deaths (30 percent) occurred in the Twin Cities' seven-county metro area (55 percent of the state's population), while 319 deaths (70 percent) occurred in the 80 counties of greater Minnesota.

DPS officials acknowledge that a rise in unemployment and high gas prices were partial reasons for the low 2008 death count.

Gas prices caused motorists to drive at slower, safer speeds, and unemployment rates likely factored in a slight but not significant drop in vehicle miles traveled. The Minnesota Department of Transportation reports 57.3 billion vehicle miles traveled on Minnesota roads last year, just lower than the 57.4 billion in 2007. The 2008 fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is less than one person (0.79), among the lowest in the nation.

Locally

The report also breaks down the number and types of crashes by county and by city, for those with populations over 2,500.

According to the report:

- Bemidji did not have a fatal crash in 2008, but had 89 personal-injury accidents, (which injured a total of 127 people) and 220 property-damage crashes for a total of 309.

- Beltrami County had four fatal crashes in 2008, 200 personal-injury crashes and 369 property-damage accidents for a total of 573 crashes, up from 528 in 2007. The county has had four fatal crashes in each of the last three years.

- Cass County had seven fatal crashes in 2008, 102 personal-injury crashes and 155 property-damage accidents for a total of 264 crashes, down from 347 in 2007. The county had eight fatalities in 2008 and seven in 2007.

- Clearwater County had one fatal crash in 2008, 29 personal-injury crashes and 58 property-damage accidents for a total of 88 crashes, up from 86 in 2007. The county has had one fatal crash in each of the last three years.

- Crow Wing County had five fatal crashes in 2008, 285 personal-injury crashes and 466 property-damage accidents for a total of 756 crashes, down from 769 in 2007. The county had five fatal crashes in 2008 and 11 in 2007.

- Hubbard County had three fatal crashes in 2008, 85 personal-injury crashes and 90 property-damage accidents for a total of 178 crashes, down from 188 in 2007. The county has had three fatal crashes in each of the last three years.

- Itasca County had five fatal crashes in 2008, 194 personal-injury crashes and 346 property-damage accidents for a total of 545 crashes, down from 574 in 2007. The county had five fatalities in 2008 and 10 in 2007.

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