MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Numbers released Thursday show there were 411 deaths on Minnesota roads last year, up 14 percent from 2014 and the highest number since 2010.

Of the 411 deaths, 74 were a result of distracted driving. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says that includes texting and driving, reaching for something that dropped on the floor or using other electronics while driving.

“A simple text takes about five seconds to send,” Donna Berger of the Minnesota DPS Office of Traffic Safety said. “If you’re driving 55 miles an hour, that’s like closing your eyes and driving blindfolded for the length of a football field.”

Traffic fatalities due to distracted driving went up 21 percent last year, compared to 2014. DPS officials said last year, more than 181,000 people were involved in some type of traffic crash.

Last year’s fatality crashes included 285 motor vehicle occupants, 61 motorcyclists, 41 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists. All are increases from 2014. Of the 411 deaths, 137 were alcohol-related crashes and 95 were a result of drunk driving. More than 1,100 people were seriously hurt in crashes last year.

Those 61 motorcyclist deaths are the most since 2008, and pedestrian deaths more than doubled in one year.

It’s a reminder to stay safe on Minnesota roads as we head out for various Fourth of July celebrations. It’s also a reminder to have a sober driver wherever you’re traveling.

DPS officials say on average, there are four fatality crashes over the Fourth of July weekend, making it the deadliest major holiday for drunk driving deaths. There are also 421 DWI arrests, 412 crashes and 235 crashes with injuries.

Pat Kessler

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