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Published January 04, 2010, 09:16 PM

Increase In Fatal Accidents In ND

There was a large increase in the number of people killed in traffic accidents last year in North Dakota compared to 2008.

By: Casey Wonnenberg, WDAZ

There was a large increase in the number of people killed in traffic accidents last year in North Dakota compared to 2008. In 2009, 140 people died in North Dakota in car crashes. That's up 35 from the previous year.

Captain Kevin Robson with the Highway Patrol says they're looking at factors that may be behind the increase.

Robson says, “I think there are a number of factors involved. We need to get an increase in the number of drivers wearing their seatbelts. Alcohol remains the contributing factor in about 40 percent of the crashes.”

Robson also says they're looking at new types of distractions while driving, like cell phone and computer use.

“There are some states that have made instant messaging, text messaging, and working on computers while driving illegal. In North Dakota we do have a basic rule of law that does make it illegal to not be paying attention to the road when you're driving. We don't have anything specific in statute,” says Robson.

Still Robson says one of the most important things you can do to prevent yourself from being killed in an accident is to wear your seatbelt. In many of the deadly accidents, those killed were not wearing them.

“We need to continue our enforcement efforts out in the rural areas and continue to send our education message that seatbelts will save your life,” says Robson.

Captain Robson says the oil boom in North Dakota might also be a factor in the increase in deadly accidents.

The deadly accident tally is unofficial because the patrol may still get more information in on accidents that happened over the last 30 days.

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