Distracted driving deaths increase by 21 percent in Minnesota

- Distracted driving-related deaths in Minnesota increased by 21 percent from 2014 to 2015, the Department of Public Safety announced Thursday.

Last year, there were 411 traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads, an increase from 361 in 2014. Of those, distracted driving was listed as a contributing factor in 74 deaths.

“Reducing traffic crashes and the tragic loss of life on Minnesota roads is an ongoing challenge in our state,” said Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. “The data mean more than numbers. They represent mothers, fathers, children and loved ones, some of whom will never come home."

There were 181,663 people involved in some type of crash in Minnesota last year -- which is equivalent to the populations of Duluth and Plymouth combined, the DPS said.

Contributing factors in 2015 traffic deaths:

Drunk driving-related – 95 deaths, resulting an 8 percent increase.
Lack of seat belt – 91 deaths, resulting in a 14 percent decrease.
Speed – 78 deaths, resulting in a 17 percent decrease.
Distracted driving – 74 deaths, resulting in a 21 percent increase.

According to the DPS, July 4 is the deadliest major holiday on Minnesota roads for drunk driving-related deaths. In the past five years, 44 percent of all fatal July 4 crashes were alcohol related.

“Most people are getting the message to plan ahead when going to bars and establishments,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety Director. “But sometimes when we are gathering with friends and family, people forget to designate a sober driver. This holiday, plan ahead, and if you see an impaired driver, speak up and find them a safe ride home.”

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