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Lessons learned from fatal crashes

Sept. 28, 2020

Drive Smart!


Now that summer’s gone and the leaves are turning, we can look back on the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day and learn from them. Those 100 days are the most traveled of the year on Minnesota roads, and this year they once again proved tragic. Preliminary numbers show that 152 people died in traffic crashes during this year’s 100 most-traveled days. They accounted for 60 percent of all traffic deaths through early September this year.

Looking back on these crashes and their causes allows us to learn some essential – and tragic – lessons. For example, 36 of the people who died weren’t wearing seat belts. This teaches us to always wear a seat belt, and when you’re the driver, you can refuse to move the car until every passenger buckles their seat belt.

Excessive speed was a factor in 50 of the summer’s traffic deaths. Always be sure to obey the speed limit or drive according to road conditions—as the weather changes, the posted speed limit may not necessarily be the safest speed. It doesn’t matter how late you’re running; the few minutes you might save aren’t worth causing a crash.

Forty of the traffic deaths were alcohol-related, and there were a total of 6,812 DWIs this summer. If you’re going out and you’ll be drinking, plan ahead by designating a sober driver, taking public transportation or a ride-share, or staying at the location of the party. And if you see someone who has had too much to drink try to get behind the wheel, speak up and find them a safe ride home.

At least eight of this summer’s traffic deaths are known to be distraction-related. If you’re driving, use a hands-free device or put away distractions altogether. And if you’re a passenger with a driver who is distracted, say something. Tell them to put the phone down, and offer to send that text message for them.

The 152 traffic deaths that took place during the 100 most-traveled days were tragic – and preventable. We can and should learn lessons from them to keep Minnesota roads safer. We need to drive smart and commit to safe driving choices every season of the year.