REGINA -- Preliminary numbers show 71 people died on Saskatchewan roads in 2019, the lowest number of fatalities on provincial roads since SGI began recording statistics in 1950.

"A lot of people in this province have clearly decided the change had to happen," Minister responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave said.

In 2018, 129 people died on Saskatchewan roads, 58 more than in 2019. From 2009 to 2018 the average number of road deaths was 140 per year.

But minister Hargrave says he is constantly looking at new ways to improve road safety.

“We can never be happy when we're talking about the number of people losing their lives. 71 deaths are still 71 too many," Hargrave said.

The previous record low for a single year was 73 in 1951. Back then, there was a quarter of the vehicles on the roads as there are today.

More police check stops and enforcement is also happening.

"We have a strong community focus seeing what we can do differently in rural areas. So getting the rural communities to take ownership of safety," SGI vice president of traffic safety Kwei Quaye said.

Police officers are noticing a change on the roads.

"You’d be getting speeds anywhere of 135 and above and now the speeds have dropped significantly for sure. A lot of people are holding that 100 km per hour mark," RCMP Sgt. Darren MacDougall said.

Sgt. MacDougall thinks a change in tactics like better relationships with bar owners and new ways to catch drivers is helping.

"We’re going out and we're getting rental vehicles. So we're getting halftone trucks, and we're driving the highways. And we'll have marked units strategically placed along the way, so that we can radio in, we can say 'hey listen, we just passed a person on their cell phone,'" Sgt. MacDougall said.

Minister Hargrave expects the higher fines for distracted driving that take effect on Feb. 1, 2019, will help continue the downward trend.