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There were a 'disturbing' number of road deaths last month, officials say

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In January of 2015, nine people died while on Minnesota roads.

This year? Already, 25 people have been killed – a number that officials described as "disturbing."

Over the past five years, the average number of road deaths in January is 19, according to an email news release from the Department of Public Safety.

“There is no such thing as the word ‘accident’ when it comes to a traffic crash,” State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said in the release. “Whether it’s going too fast in winter driving conditions, a driver not paying attention to the road while they are on their phone, an unbuckled motorist or someone who got behind the wheel after drinking, the human element always comes into play.”

Among those who have died are a 16-year-old Canton girl. Her car was hit head-on when another vehicle veered into oncoming traffic. Authorities say alcohol was detected on the driver of the other vehicle.

Drunken driving is a factor in one out of every four road fatalities in Minnesota, the Public Safety news release says. Distracted driving and speed are each factors in one-in-five deaths.

The figure has Office of Traffic Safety Director Donna Berger asking people to "make driving your number one priority when you are behind the wheel."

"All of our lives depend on drivers paying attention, buckling up, driving the speed limit and never driving drunk," she said in the release.

At least 1 killed Monday morning

A road fatality was recorded just hours into the month of February.

According to the State Patrol incident report, a Kia was heading northbound on U.S. Highway 61 about 10 miles south of Winona, when it lost control on a frosty road and crossed over the center grass median.

It rolled over, and while doing so was struck by a Ford traveling the other direction.

The driver of the Kia was "partially ejected," the State Patrol says.

Three people were involved, though the agency does not identify how many people were killed or injured. The Rochester Post-Bulletin however reports two people – the driver of each vehicle – were killed, and a passenger in one of the vehicles was taken to a hospital.

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