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For Minnesotans, 2011 was one of the safest years of travel in the past 60, as the number of accident-related fatalities continued to decline. Yet, while the numbers show a positive trend, hundreds of families still experienced tragedy in 2011.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety reports that for the fourth consecutive year, car accident fatalities declined in Minnesota. The DPS reports that in 2011, fewer than 400 motor vehicle fatalities occurred – the fewest number of deaths since 1944 – which is a decline of 11 percent from 2010 and a 38 percent decline from 2001.

The DPS credits several factors for the reduction in fatalities, including a high rate of seat belt use (93 percent compliance) and a decline in drunk driving and related driving while intoxicated (DWI) fatalities and injuries. The Twin Cities television station Fox 9 also reports that the DPS is crediting engineering improvements, increased enforcement, traffic law education, and efficient emergency response to accidents.

Of course, the numbers mean very little to those who have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident. Every accident is one accident too many and 400 traffic fatalities is a number far too large to consider acceptable. The state must continue to focus on decreasing traffic deaths and all drivers must remember to drive safely, reduce distractions and call a cab when necessary.

Families that lose a loved one in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of another driver may be able to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation. A wrongful death claim may allow a grieving family to receive compensation for lost wages, loss of consortium, any medical bills incurred after the accident, and funeral expenses. While a wrongful death lawsuit will not be able to bring back a loved one, it may be able to help the family move forward with some financial relief.

Source: Fox, “Traffic Deaths Hit 67-Year Low in Minnesota,” January 4, 2012.