St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The 2015 Crash Facts report from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety shows distracted driving contributed to a double digit percentage increase in the number of traffic deaths in the state last year.

The overall traffic-related death toll in Minnesota in 2015 was 411, which is 14-percent above the grim tally of 361 deaths during the previous year. Distracted driving was listed as a contributing factor in 74 of the traffic fatalities last year, which is up 21-percent when compared to 2014.

Drunk or impaired driving was listed as a contributing factor in 95 of the traffic deaths. That is up 8-percent from the year before and remains the number one contributing factor in traffic fatalities.

“Reducing traffic crashes and the tragic loss of life on Minnesota roads is an ongoing challenge in our state,” said Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. “The data mean more than numbers. They represent mothers, fathers, children and loved ones, some of whom will never come home. We need to stand together to make sure all drivers are focused 100 percent on the road, and speak up if we see dangerous driving behaviors. Together we can save lives.”

The report shows 285 of the victims were motor vehicle occupants, while 61 were motorcyclists. The number of motorcyclists killed was up 32-percent from 2014 and was the highest since 2008. The number of pedestrians killed jumped from 17 in 2014 to 41 last year. The number of bicyclists killed was double the total from 2014 at 10. Nearly 30,000 people were injured in traffic-related crashes and other incidents and over 1100 of those injuries were severe.

The Crash Fact report was issued just prior to the start of the busy Fourth of July holiday travel, which is considered the deadliest major holiday on Minnesota roads for drunk driving related fatalities. State officials say the average July 4th holiday period will include 4 fatalities, 235 injuries, 412 crashes and 421 drunk driving arrests.

The State Patrol and the hundreds of local law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota have extra patrols planned through next Tuesday morning to crack down on drunk drivers and hopefully prevent additional tragedies on state roads.

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