ST. PAUL, MN (KDAL) - For the first time in five years, the number of traffic deaths increased in Minnesota as 378 people were killed in 2012, according to preliminary reports from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. In 2011, 368 people died in crashes on Minnesota roads. ·
DPS projects the final total — available in early summer as additional crash reports are submitted — to be around 390, 6 percent above the 2011 figure. Despite the increase, 2012 will be the second safest year (behind 2011) since 1944 (356 deaths). Officials expect common traffic safety issues will again be the primary contributing factors for the 2012 deaths: drunk driving, seat belt non-use, speeding and distracted driving.
Traffic safety officials say a warmer winter to start the year — leading to faster, unsafe speeds — and a spike in motorcyclist fatalities were the main factors for the increase in deaths. An early spring led to a longer and deadlier riding season as 53 motorcyclists were killed, a 26 percent increase from 42 deaths in 2011.