MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota roads are safer than they’ve been in decades.

Early numbers show the total amount of deadly crashes last year, 370, was the second lowest number since World War II.

Last month, the number of deaths was nine — down from 27 deaths last January.

Lt. Tiffani Nielson with the Minnesota State Patrol said the hardest part of her job is having to make death notifications.

“When we go to car crash scenes and there is a death, you already know this family’s life is going to be turned upside down, and they don’t even know it yet,” Nielson said. “When you walk up to the door and the family looks out and sees you, you know they know something terrible has happened.”

She said sometimes she gives families the news and has to call an ambulance because they have panic attacks.

But this past year, troopers made fewer knocks than normal.

In 2004, there were 567 deaths. By 2013 that number dropped to 387.

Nielson credits the new numbers to people making arrangements to get home before going out on the town drinking and driving.

She also said education is helping, and they are continuing a push for seatbelt awareness. She said one thing they need help with is if you spot someone driving wildly, don’t follow them, don’t wait, get a description and call 911.

Even with the dropping numbers, Nielson said that for too so many families who have lost people, the decrease in numbers doesn’t mean a thing.

“No family who’s lost a loved one will ever tell you that one or 100  or 300 is an acceptable number,” she said.

The goal, she said, is to get to zero deaths.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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