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2015 North Dakota traffic fatalities down 3 percent from previous year and lowest in 5 years

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BISMARCK, North Dakota — The number of people who died on North Dakota roadways last year was the lowest in five years.

Preliminary data released by the state Transportation Department and the Highway Patrol show 131 motor vehicle fatalities in 2015, down 3 percent from 2014 and the lowest number since 105 fatalities in 2010.

"The state has made significant investments into our infrastructure in recent years so it is encouraging to see the decrease in the number of fatalities," Transportation Director Grant Levi said. "Infrastructure improvements can help save lives but those improvements need to be combined with drivers who aren't distracted, drive defensively and abide by the rules of the road."

Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Michael Gerhart said motorists also need to be smart — "drive sober, buckle up and slow down."

About two-thirds of last year's fatalities involved people who were not wearing seat belts. More than one-third were alcohol-related, and more than one-fourth were speed-related. Three-fourths of the fatalities were North Dakota residents.

Most fatal crashes involved passenger vehicles. About one-fifth involved motorcycles, trains, all-terrain vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

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