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Minnesota traffic fatalities on pace to top last year's rate

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Traffic fatalities in Minnesota are on pace to soar beyond the 395 road deaths last year, and state safety officials can't pinpoint precise reasons for the spike, the Star Tribune reports.

Officials are trying to zero in on the trends that have led to 204 deaths so far this year, the newspaper reports. A short list of factors that have traditionally played a leading role in crashes continue to be top factors in fatal accidents this year: speeding, drunken and inattentive driving, and people not wearing seat belts, state safety official say.

“Crashes are preventable and are directly related to driver behavior — we can prevent these tragedies by paying attention, driving at safe speeds, driving sober and buckling up,” DPS Commissioner Mona Dohman said in a news release this week.

State officials say traffic deaths didn't pass the 200 mark until Aug. 21, 2012, KSTP noted.

Four people died in a 12-hour span over the weekend on Minnesota roads.

Five people were hurt Tuesday night, although no one died, in a Stearns County rollover crash, WCCO reported.

Traffic fatalities went up last year, too. The 395 fatalities 2012 marked a 7 percent increase over 2011. Of the 395, 116 were not buckled up and 104 of the deaths were due to drunk driving, the state noted in an annual crash facts report.

Minnesota officials this year are also worried about what appears to be an increase in motorcycle-related fatalities.

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