ST. PAUL, MN --- Preliminary statistics reveal that Minnesota in 2008 had the fewest number of traffic deaths in 64 years, the Associated Press reported.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said that preliminary data show that 424 people died in crashes involving a vehicle last year. That represents a decline of 16 percent over the 510 people killed in 2007.

The final tally for 2008 may go up as more reports of fatal crashes are received. But the 424 deaths represent the lowest total since 1944 when 356 people died on state roads.

Safety Commissioner Michael Campion attributed the drop to greater seat belt use, improved law-enforcement patrols to combat impaired and aggressive driving, road safety refinements, and higher gas prices. When gas prices are up, motorists drive less and at safer speeds.

Official numbers for 2008 will be released in May.