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West-central Minnesota gets half a million in federal money to reduce traffic fatalities

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By Emily Welker / The Forum

MOORHEAD – To raise awareness about problems caused by drunken driving, the Department of Public Safety is giving west-central Minnesota cops, courts and emergency responders more than half a million dollars in federal grant money for traffic safety enforcement and education through next September.

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There were 115 drunken-driving deaths in west-central Minnesota over the past decade, which was 33 percent of the region’s total number of traffic deaths, state Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman said during a news conference at the Moorhead Airport. That compared to 29.4 percent for the state’s average in the same period.

“This increase in deaths is a stark and tragic reminder that driving can turn deadly when we make unsafe decisions behind the wheel,” she said.

Two factors that contributed to the higher rate of drunken-driving fatalities in west-central Minnesota were a higher rate of people who drive drunk and lower rates of seat-belt use, said Donna Berger, director of the Office of Traffic Safety.

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