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Last week was a deadly one on Minnesota roads

Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials say last week (Aug. 1-7) was the third deadliest week of 2011 on Minnesota roads. Since August 1, 13 people have been killed on state roads, according to preliminary reports from the DPS Office of Traffic Safety.

Other deadly seven-day periods on the road in 2011 include:

--July 4-10 -- 21 deaths. (The 27 deaths during June 30-July 14 was the deadliest two-week period of the year.)

-- May 19-25 --14 deaths. (There were 18 deaths during the two-week period, May 13-26).

--Feb. 1-7; Feb. 17-23; June 12-18 -- 11 deaths for each period.

DPS officials say the traffic deaths spiked in July, the deadliest month of the year so far (43 deaths), followed by June (30) and May (28). To-date, there have been 194 traffic deaths in Minnesota, compared to 229 at this time in 2010. The state's total fatality number for 2010 was 411, the lowest since 1944.

"This last week sadly highlighted how driver error leads to road tragedy," says Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. "It's not surprising to see an increase in deaths when seat belts aren't worn, when drivers speed and when they don't pay attention. Summertime can be deadly on the road, but it doesn't have to be if motorists make safe decisions."

Of the 13 deaths during the last week, five were in the metro (all Hennepin County), and eight were in the greater Minnesota counties of Becker, Blue Earth (two deaths), Brown, Carlton, Isanti, Rock, and Redwood. Six of 13 people killed were ages 30 and younger.

The state's traffic safety efforts are driven by its core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to foster a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes -- education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.