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Crashes drop - 2010: 4 traffic fatalities locally, 410 statewide

Echo Press file This is a scene from Jefferson High School's mock crash in 2010.

Last year, across the state, 410 people were killed in traffic crashes on Minnesota's roads.

As they wait for final 2010 reports to trickle in, Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials say last year's traffic deaths will likely match 2009's total of 421 fatalities - which is the lowest number of annual deaths since 1944.

Local statistics

Locally, there were fewer crashes reported in 2010, but the number of people killed in traffic crashes was consistent with 2009.

In Douglas County, there were 612 crashes in 2010 compared to 650 crashes in 2009, but in both 2009 and 2010, four people were killed in traffic crashes.

Why the low numbers?

Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Jesse Grabow cites the state's primary seat belt law; enhanced enforcement by local law enforcement; as well as safer vehicles for the lower death trend.

However, regardless of safety efforts and enforcement, Grabow said it's every driver's responsibility to obey traffic laws and drive safely.

Grabow said, "It's nice to see the number of traffic deaths is down, but that's still a large number of people who are no longer with us. Each one has a story to tell."

The preliminary total of 410 fatalities in Minnesota last year includes motorists (313), motorcyclists (41); pedestrians (39 -- slightly down from the 41 killed in 2009); bicyclists (nine -- even with 2009); ATV riders (four); farm equipment operators (two); one snowmobiler; and one battery powered conveyance vehicle operator, according to DPS.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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