By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota reported its 200th traffic death for the year on Thursday, the earliest date to reach that mark since 2009, state officials said.

A total of 202 people have died on the roads since Jan. 1, compared to 148 at this time a year ago.

“Exactly halfway through 2021, and I’m at a loss for words. What is it going to take for drivers to understand the importance of driving smart?” asked Mike Hanson, state Office of Traffic Safety director. “Two hundred traffic fatalities by July 1 is just unacceptable.”

The fatalities include 142 motor vehicle occupants, 25 motorcyclists, 23 pedestrians and three bicyclists. Preliminary information shows 80 speed-related deaths, 46 unbelted motorist deaths, 45 alcohol-related deaths and five distracted-driving deaths.

“You’re at much greater risk of planning a funeral now than in the past because of what’s happening on our roads,” Hanson said. “We all need to drive smart to help protect each other while out on the roads.”

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