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200 killed on Minnesota roads to-date in 2011

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota road deaths hit the 200 death-mark for the year following a deadly July and a tragic first week of August, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. The figure represents an 18 percent drop in deaths compared to the 244 deaths at this time in 2010.

At this rate, DPS projects 362 deaths for 2011. In both 2009 and 2010, the state reached the 200-death mark in mid-July. There were 411 total deaths in 2010, the lowest annual number of traffic fatalities since 1944.

The 2011 fatalities include 24 motorcyclists, up from 22 at this time in 2010; 14 pedestrians, down from 19; and two bicyclists, down from six.

Most recent month-by-month fatality figures (preliminary): January, 15; February, 25; March, 19; April, 21; May, 28; June, 30; and July, 43. The state hit the 100-death mark in May.

"While we had a relatively safe start to 2011, we were reminded how deadly our roads can become during the summer months when drivers often let down their guard," says Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. "This tragic period serves as a reminder to buckle up and drive sober."

Officials note the trend of fewer road deaths in recent years has been driven by positive driver behavior and supported by important legislation and proactive efforts -- increased enforcement and education, engineering improvements, and efficient trauma response, especially in rural areas.