ROCHESTER, Minn. - Minnesota is one of nine states receiving the 2017 national Roadway Safety Award.
The award recognizes the state's success of reducing fatal crashes on country roads.
Less than one fourth of vehicle miles are on county roads, but about half of fatal crashes happen on them.
Mike Dougherty with the Minnesota Department of Transportation said it's for a number of reasons, but one main one.
"People tend to think...I can look down at my phone. It's just those momentary, look away, not focusing on your primary role as a driver, " Dougherty said.
To address fatal crashes, the state put in low-cost safety improvements like rumble strips and lit signs alerting drivers of upcoming traffic.
Since these strategies were implemented four years ago, the fatal crash rates on county roads have reduced 25%.
This is the real reward Dougherty said.
"It's a nice acknowldegement...but in the end they'll get up and keep doing the same work they've done, and try to improve each day," Dougherty said.
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