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Thanksgiving weekend one of safest on record in Minnesota

ST. PAUL -- Preliminary traffic fatality reports indicate Minnesota may have recorded its safest Thanksgiving travel period since at least 1974, the year Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety began tracking Thanksgiving period fatal numbers.

According to preliminary records, there was one Minnesota traffic death during the holiday travel time frame (6 p.m. Wed, Nov. 23 - 12 a.m., Mon., Nov. 28). The deadliest Thanksgiving travel period on record was 18 deaths in 1994. There were four deaths during the holiday period in 2010.

The 2011 death was a motorist in Norman County killed on Fri., Nov. 25.

"Just a few years ago Minnesota would suffer double-digit fatalities during Thanksgiving," says Donna Berger, acting director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety. "Increased belt use, attentive driving and sober driving are helping to make sure people are getting home safely for the holidays."

Preliminary holiday travel period traffic deaths in 2011 include: Memorial Day -- 0 (safest since at least 1975); Fourth of July -- five; Labor Day -- nine.

To-date in 2011 there has been 313 traffic deaths compared to 369 at this time in 2010.

Reducing traffic crashes and resulting deaths and injuries is the goal of the state's core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes -- education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.