Traveling this summer? Don't forget your safe driving choices

​​​​June 27, 2024

Three lanes of packed highway traffic

Despite all the rain, summer has officially arrived in Minnesota. As you head to parks, lakes, pools, festivals and all kinds of outdoor fun, don't forget to “pack" your safe driving choices.

The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day have a dangerous reputation on the road. People are traveling to their favorite getaways, summer activities and vacation spots, which makes it even more important to do all you can to avoid a crash. While our Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will complete a report for the 2023 data stats, currently the numbers show the 100-day stretch accounted for 165 of the 411 traffic fatalities last year. That's 40 percent of all the traffic deaths in 2023.

This year has been a particularly tragic one on our roads. As of June 25, there have been 192 traffic fatalities reported in Minnesota, compared to 153 fatalities by the same date in 2023. Each one of those represents a family who had to say good-bye to a loved one.

“We can solve the traffic fatality problem in Minnesota. We just need to make good, smart decisions behind the wheel and work together to keep our roads safe," OTS Director Mike Hanson said.​

There are four main factors that increase the risk for fatalities: speed, impaired driving, distracted driving and not wearing a seat belt. Preliminary numbers show that of the 165 deaths during the 100 most-traveled days in 2023:

  • 52 were caused by impaired driving
  • 47 were related to speeding
  • 15 involved distraction
  • 29 were unbelted

“We need to really pay attention to that speed. That is the one factor that makes every other mistake or bad decision worse," Hanson said. “It takes away time and it takes away distance and you can't react. You can't prevent a crash when you're going too fast."

Have fun this summer but make sure you plan ahead if your getaways involve alcohol or other impairing substances.

Here are some other ways to make our roads safe:

  • Speak up: Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
  • If you plan to drive, refrain from drugs, whether legally or illegally obtained.
  • Some medications are fine on their own but can impair you when mixed with other medications or alcohol. Learn about the interactions and talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Buckle up: It's the best defense against an impaired driver.
  • Report impaired driving: Call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

Join us in making these 100 days on Minnesota's roads as safe as possible. Learn more at DriveSmartMN.org.​