​​The ongoing crisis: Traffic deaths on Minnesota's roads

Sept. 20, 2021​

A hand on a steering wheel

The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year continued a distressing trend of traffic deaths. Those 100 days are the most traveled of the year on Minnesota roads, and this year they proved particularly tragic. Preliminary numbers show that 167 people died in traffic crashes during this year's 100 most-traveled days. They accounted for over half of all the 321 traffic deaths through early September this year.

And if 321 traffic deaths by September sounds high, it is. It's a 25 percent increase over deaths this time last year and a 30 percent increase over this time in 2019. People are dying on Minnesota roads in record numbers, and we're doing everything we can to stop it. But we can't do it without your help.

In keeping with the distressing trend of drivers ignoring the speed limit, 47 of the traffic deaths during the 100 most traveled days were speed related. You can help reverse this trend by obeying the speed limit and driving 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.

Twenty-nine of the people who died weren't wearing seat belts. It's a reminder of what you already know: Seat belts save lives. Always wear yours, and when you're the driver, refuse to move the car until every passenger buckles their seat belt.

Thirty-five of the traffic deaths this summer were alcohol-related. 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.

Seven of this summer's traffic deaths are known to be distraction-related. If you're driving, use a hands-free device for your phone 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 167 traffic deaths that took place during the 100 most-traveled days were tragic – and preventable. We need to work together to keep Minnesota roads safer. Please drive smart and commit to safe driving choices every season of the year.​