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Minnesota hits 200 traffic deaths this year

This past weekend, Minnesota hit the 200 traffic death mark for the year. The milestone comes as statewide, increased DWI patrols continue to close out the summer, Aug. 17-Sept. 3.

The 205 road deaths in 2012 are on pace with 204 deaths at this time 2011. Last year, 368 people were killed, the lowest annual total since 1944. This year's 205 deaths include four bicyclist, 29 motorcyclists and 18 pedestrians.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, Aug. 17-Sept. 3

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is coordinated by DPS and is also being conducted on a national level. Around 400 agencies in Minnesota, and 10,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are increasing patrols through Labor Day.

Officials are stressing for Minnesotans to plan ahead for a sober ride to stop preventable alcohol-related traffic deaths. Last year, one-third (111) of the state's 368 road deaths involved a drunk driver, and in the last five years there have been 651 drunk driving-related deaths. A majority of these crashes involve a driver with an alcohol-concentration twice above the 0.08 legal limit.

Crash Victims Memorial Website Adds Perspective to the 200-Death Milestone

The DPS memorial website, launched in 2011, provides a dramatic representation of the lives lost on state roads and "goes beyond the stats," according to state traffic safety officials. DPS is reminding Minnesotans about the site upon hitting the 200-death milestone to stress safe driving behaviors.

The site allows crash victims' families to present an intimate and meaningful remembrance of a loved one, while the primary goal is to educate Minnesotans about traffic safety. The site requires families to enter victim crash details, such as seat belt or helmet use, and impaired or distracted driving, to enhance the education component.

The site allows families to connect with others who have entered a memorial, and gives visitors an opportunity to post photos and offer remembrances in a victim's guestbook.

About the Office of Traffic Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements, and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for motorcycle safety programs and child seats for needy families.

OTS is an anchoring partner of the state's Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes -- education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.