Staying safe on the 100 most traveled days
June 15, 2020
After over two months of staying at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, heading out on the open road sounds like just the ticket. And a lot of Minnesotans will likely make similar plans, even as they’re staying close to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that sense of freedom can turn tragic if you’re driving distracted, speeding, driving while impaired, or driving unbuckled.
The 100 days from Memorial Day through Labor Day are most people’s best opportunity for a short road trip – especially now that people are starting to venture out after the stay at home order. They’re referred to as the 100 most traveled days on Minnesota’s roads. Unfortunately, those 100 days are also the most dangerous. Because even though that period only accounts for about a quarter of the year, over a third of traffic deaths tend to occur during it. Preliminary numbers for 2019, for example, show that 136 of the year’s 364 traffic fatalities happened during this 100-day stretch—that’s 37 percent.
While more people may be traveling to take in the joys of the summer season, it’s the drivers’ behaviors that make these 100 days so deadly. Speed, distraction, lack of seat belt use and drunk driving continue to lead the way in fatal and serious motor vehicle crashes. In fact, unless driver behavior changes this year, things won’t get any better.
Even though traffic volumes were down due to the COVID-19 stay at home order, there were more traffic fatalities this year than during the comparable time last year: 50 deaths during March 16-May 18, 2020, as compared to 47 deaths for the same period in 2019. And this year’s 100 most traveled days are already off to a tragic start, with eight traffic fatalities over the Memorial Day weekend –making it the deadliest since 2010.
In an attempt to keep motorists safe, the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is working with law enforcement agencies across the state to conduct extra enforcement campaigns throughout the summer. Extra enforcement for speeding will take place June 22 through July 19, so keep an eye on that speedometer and always drive at speeds appropriate for the weather conditions. The one-year anniversary of the hands-free cell phone law is Aug. 1., so law enforcement across the state will be conducting extra hands-free cell phone enforcement Aug. 1-8. And the extra impaired enforcement campaign runs Aug. 14 through Sept. 7, but you should be finding sober rides all summer long.
The aim is for Minnesota law enforcement to stay extra vigilant so that you can arrive safely at your destination. It’s never guaranteed, but by buckling your seat belt, putting the phone down, driving sober and obeying the speed limit, you can increase the chances that your open road will lead to summer fun instead of tragedy.