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ND highway fatalities up significantly

North Dakota is reporting a sharp increase in highway fatalities.

State Transportation Director Francis Ziegler told the Legislature’s interim Transportation Committee Wednesday (Aug. 22) that so far this year, 92 people have lost their lives on North Dakota roads. That compares to 59 at this time last year.

"The key issues are still seat belt use," said Ziegler. "Of those fatalities where seat belts could have been effective, 70 percent were not using them."

Ziegler also said alcohol remains a big factor. "50 percent of fatalities in our state are caused by drinking and driving."

Ziegler says the Highway Patrol is doing what it can to help – in the enforcement area, as well as education. And he says DOT is doing what it can to make the roadways safer. He says one of the initiatives was the installation of more “rumble stripes” along the center stripe, or along the shoulders of the highway.

"People like the idea that before you come across into their lane, you have a rumble stripe that should either wake you up, or get you off the phone, or stop texting," said Ziegler. He said nationally, the rumble stripes cut down on fatalities by 40 percent.

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