Traffic deaths in Minnesota surpass 200 for the year

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After a rash of fatal accidents recently, the number of traffic deaths in Minnesota has surpassed 200 so far in 2014, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

This year's tally is 204, after the deaths of two motorcyclists within the past week. However, the number is below the tally at the same time last year of 220 deaths.

The most recent fatality was a woman who crashed her motorcycle while driving on Hwy. 52 at 55th St. NW in Rochester Sunday evening. The Minnesota State Patrol says Laurie Snyder, 58, of Rochester, was on an evening cycle ride with two friends when she "lost consciousness and control of the bike" and crashed, the Star Tribune reports.

Snyder was wearing a helmet, and there was no evidence that she had used alcohol. State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said Snyder's autopsy will pinpoint the cause of her death.

Another motorcyclist was killed in an accident in Wright County last week. Robert Brau, 21, of Willmar, died Thursday morning when the motorcycle he was driving collided head-on with a car being driven by a 17-year-old girl on U.S. Highway 12 near Montrose, according to the North Wright County Today.

Of the 204 traffic deaths so far this year, 31 were motorcycle fatalities. Last year at this time, 44 motorcycle deaths had occurred, according to the DPS.

In western Wisconsin, three people were killed in a head-on crash in Trempealeau County Monday morning, the Winona Daily News reports.

A minivan driving west on Hwy. 95 about 7:35 a.m. crossed the center line and struck an SUV driving east, according to Trempealeau County Sheriff Richard Anderson.

Both drivers were killed, as well as a passenger in the minivan who was sitting in a rear seat. Two others in the minivan were injured and were taken to area hospitals, according to the Daily News.

The most common factors for traffic crashes are speeding and distracted driving. But the main cause of fatal crashes is alcohol. Drunk driving is responsible for one out of every five traffic fatalities, according to the DPS.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota are participating in an enhanced enforcement campaign to crack down on drunk drivers from now through Labor Day, Sept. 1.

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