Minnesota recorded its first traffic fatality of the new year Monday morning when a westbound motorist crossed the centerline on Hwy. 7 in Victoria and collided with an eastbound semitrailer truck.

Authorities closed Hwy. 7 for several hours after the wreck, which occurred near Hawks Point Lane around 8:20 a.m., the State Patrol said.

A 49-year-old woman from Excelsior who was driving a Chevy Suburban was killed, the patrol said. Her name was not released. The truck driver, Todd Breyer, 40, of Glencoe, Minn., was not hurt.

Monday's crash came after an extremely deadly 2020. Preliminary numbers show 394 motorists were killed in crashes last year, up 30 from 2019 and the most since 2015, when 411 people were killed, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).

The deadliest month in 2020 was July, when 54 people died, followed by August and September, each with 47. The fewest fatalities occurred in April when 20 people were killed, according to the DPS.

Motorists between 21 and 30 and between 61 and 70 years old accounted for the most fatalities by age range, each with 71.

Speeding was the leading factor in deadly wrecks, with 118 attributed to motorists going too fast, DPS data show. Right behind were alcohol-related crashes, which accounted for 109 deaths, and unbelted motorists, accounting for 102 deaths.

Troopers also wrote 1,034 citations to drivers traveling more than 100 mph last year, a 94% increase over the 533 issued in 2019. The top speed was 153 mph, with a citation issued in October.

Fewer drivers were arrested for driving while under the influence last year. Law enforcement handed out 22,653 citations in 2020 compared with 27,975 in 2019.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768