There were 145 fatal traffic accidents in 2012 - 15 more than 2011 according to North Dakota Highway Patrol statistics released Thursday.
Despite New Year's Eve traditionally being a night of heavy celebration and excessive drinking, law enforcement agencies have said that the last night of the year doesn't amount to more crime than a typical weekend night.
"In all reality, it's actually one of the quieter ones," said Capt. Gary Orluck of the Minot office of the North Dakota Highway Patrol of the holiday crime statistics. "On some of the summer holidays I'd say we actually see more drinking and driving than we see on New Year's."
These are changing times for Minot and this region of North Dakota, with increasing numbers of people coming from out-of-state and looking for work. Many of them are simply not prepared for the North Dakota winters and this is what concerns the Highway Patrol more than the DUI numbers.
"People need to be vigilant at all times when they're driving, I just hope that there's no tragedy that occurs," Orluck said. "In winter time, with driving conditions being as they are ... if (motorists) are stranded out there, then we can't be everywhere and people need to take precautions to safeguard their own lives."
Motorists should keep extra blankets in their car, as well as emergency supplies like extra winter clothing and non-perishable food. Proper awareness isn't just to inform newcomers to the area, but also to remind North Dakotans not to take their trips for granted because becoming stranded could happen to anyone at any time.
The Ward County Sheriff's Department will be compiling their year-end crime and traffic numbers in the weeks following the end of the year. Records for 2012 closed at midnight and then 2013 will represent new numbers and new obstacles for this growing city and county.
"Our numbers are up," said Steve Kukowski, sheriff of Ward County. "Our DUIs are up, our domestic violence numbers are up. ... Our calls for service are way up. We're probably about 1,300 calls ahead from last year."
Kukowski agrees with Orluck that New Year's Eve historically hasn't been any worse than a typical weekend night. Today, though, is a holiday and many people will have treated last night the way they would treat a Saturday. The night won't have contributed too many more crime numbers to 2012's record.
"Just the increase in people and the increase in traffic, things go up in all areas when you bring that many more people in," Kukowski said about what made 2012 worse than last year.
"We're going to start now looking at what transpired last year and what we're going to need for 2013. We'll take a look at all the categories and see what we need to work on."
The 84 new beds that will come along with the jail and courthouse expansion approved by Ward County voters in November will help "very much," Kukowski said, as will the extra office space.
"We don't have interview rooms or rooms for new personel right now," Kukowski said. "We've got a new detective and we don't know where to put him." The new detective will probably be hired from the patrol ranks, and Deputy Williams will move to enforce county trucking overload violations full time and will be replaced as a court deputy by a new hire.