MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After more than twice as many people died on Minnesota roads this January than they did in the same month last year, state officials are urging drivers to take it easy, wear seatbelts, drive sober, and pay attention to the road.

In a press release on Monday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said 25 people died in traffic fatalities last month. That’s up from 9 fatalities in January of last year and more than 6 deaths higher than the month-specific average of the last five years.

Officials called last month’s number of deaths “disturbing.”

They said the number jumped to 25 after recent crashes where a 20-year-old Rochester man was killed in a head-on collision, a 26-year-old Isanti man lost control of his car and was fatally broadsided, and a 16-year-old girl died after being hit by an alleged drunk driver.

Going forward, safety officials say they want drivers to pay attention to a few factors: speed, distractions, alcohol intake and seatbelts.

“There is no such thing as the word ‘accident’ when it comes to a traffic crash,” State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said as part of the press release. “We believe driver’s behavior plays a role in every crash we investigate.”

State numbers say that one in five road fatalities are related to speeding or distracted driving, one in four fatalities is related to drunk driving, and that half of the people killed in crashes aren’t wearing seatbelts.

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