Ninety-nine state traffic deaths to date

Minnesota approached the 100-traffic fatality milestone for the year, just prior to the historically deadly Memorial Day weekend, a period that has accumulated 29 deaths during the last five years (nine in 2010 and 13 in 2009).

In 2011, however, there were zero deaths during the weekend, the safest Minnesota Memorial Day travel period on record, dating back to 1975.

Increased, statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement continues during the holiday weekend and through June 3.

The 2012 preliminary count of 99 is a 6 percent decrease from the 105 deaths at this time in 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

“After a deadly start early in the year, we’ve seen a reduction in the fatalities,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director, citing this year’s deaths were once 20 ahead of last year’s pace. “We can still continue to limit deaths if we all buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and drive sober.”

At this rate, DPS projects around 365 deaths for 2012. In 2011, the 100-death mark was also hit in late May. The final 2011 count will be announced soon and will be under 400 deaths for the first time since 1944.

Crash victims memorial website 

The DPS memorial website, launched in early 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 to stress safe driving behaviors prior to the deadly summer driving season.

“Stats and numbers can’t compare to the heartbreaking realities of crash victims,” Berger said. “These stories connect people to the real life-and-death consequences of unsafe driving.”

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.