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DPS: Crash Numbers Up, but Traffic Fatalities Down in 2013

Updated: 06/30/2014 6:10 PM
Created: 06/30/2014 10:55 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson

The Fourth of July holiday can be one of the most dangerous ones on Minnesota roads, and lots of people will be hitting the road this weekend.

On Monday, the Department of Public Safety released new numbers revealing traffic crashes in our state are up 12 percent over 2012 to 77,707.

The good news is that fatalities have gone down from 395 in 2012 to 387 last year.

The top reasons for crashes were distraction, speeding, and not yielding to the right-of-way, according to the data. Alcohol was the top reason for traffic deaths in 2013; 117 deaths had alcohol listed as a factor.

Last August, Peggy Riggs lost her 20-year-old son, David, to a distracted driver. He was on a scooter waiting to pull into his parents’ driveway at their home in Oakdale when an 18-year-old driver coming up behind him looked down at his phone and hit Riggs from behind.

"The crash didn't happen on an interstate or a local highway; this took place right in front of our home while David was pulling into our driveway,” Riggs said. “The home where we raised our family and spent many happy years is now the place where David's dad held him in his arms, praying he'd survive."

Peggy and Craig Riggs say their son had a tattoo on his foot with the words "keep on moving."

While they didn't understand it at first, they do now, and they’re using those words to keep pushing for all of us to be safer on the roads.

The Minnesota State Patrol has a simple message: If you're doing something that takes your eyes off the road, it doesn't matter if it's illegal or not – you shouldn't be doing it.

So far in 2014, DPS reports 137 traffic fatalities as of Friday; last year at this time there had been 143 deaths.

DPS is reminding drivers to wear seatbelts, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and never drive impaired. Learn more about the Toward Zero Deaths initiative here.

KSTP File Photo

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