2014 saw second-fewest deaths on Minnesota roads since World War II

Believe it or not, 2014 was the second-safest year in terms of the number of fatalities on Minnesota roads in 70 years.

Though the final numbers aren't in yet, the Department of Public Safety estimates that 370 people lost their lives on Minnesota roads last year. That's the second lowest number since 1944, when 356 died in automobile crashes and American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy.

The number of Minnesota road fatalities from 2013 to last year dipped from 387 to 370. That follows a clear trend apparent in the numbers going back to 2003.

Here are the year-by-year crash deaths since then:

2014 - 370 (preliminary)

2013 - 387

2012 - 395

2011 - 368

2010 - 421

2009 - 421

2008 - 455

2007 - 510

2006 - 494

2005 - 559

2004 - 567

2003 - 655

Last year also saw a decline in the number of pedestrian deaths from 71 in 1986 to 17. That's the lowest number since 1984.

Furthermore, drunk driving-related fatalities were down, to 81 last year from 196 in 2003.

The DPS notes that lack of seatbelt use remains a significant problem, as about half the motorists killed in Minnesota aren't buckled up.

Perhaps counterintuitively, the deadliest months on Minnesota roads last year were August (43), July (40), and September (37), while the safest were the winter months of March (19), February (20), and January (28).

While last year saw more steps in a positive direction, Donnie Berger, director of the Office of Traffic Safety, says more work remains to be done if Minnesota is to realize its "Toward Zero Deaths" goal.

"The pain and suffering of even one family is too much," she says.
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