ST. PAUL – From motorcycle deaths to pedestrian fatalities, the lives lost in traffic crashes in 2015 made it a tragic year for too many Minnesota families. Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) show 396 people have died so far on Minnesota roads compared with 361 for all of last year.
DPS-OTS projects a final number of 405 road fatalities after final crash data are received and evaluated. This would be the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2010 when 411 people lost their lives.
The stories of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children can all be found amongst the nearly 400 lives lost on Minnesota roads in 2015. The 396 preliminary traffic deaths to date included:
- 361 crashes, compared with 319 in 2014.
- 61 motorcyclists, compared with 45 in 2014.
- 40 pedestrians, compared with 16 in 2014.
- 10 bicyclists, compared with five in 2014.
A New Year Brings New Hope
Distracted driving, speed, lack of seat belt use and drunk driving all played a significant role in 2015 road fatalities. As the New Year is upon us, it’s a time for Minnesotans to refocus their efforts and commit to paying attention, buckling up, driving the speed limit and always lining up a sober ride.
“Those who lost their lives last year on Minnesota roads were no different than you or me,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “When they got behind the wheel, they never thought they would never see their loved ones again. We can all make a difference and save lives by making driving our number one priority when we are behind the wheel.”
Extra Enforcement Keeps People Safe
In 2016, DPS-OTS will continue to provide federal funding for overtime enforcement to police departments, sheriff’s offices and the state patrol to crack down on dangerous driving behaviors. The money provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) allows law enforcement to provide extra staff to focus on drunk driving, speed, lack of seat belt use and distracted driving during designated enforcement periods.
Through education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response, traffic fatalities have been reduced significantly since the mid-2000s.
2005 – 2014 Minnesota traffic fatalities
Road Fatality Contributing Factors in Minnesota
- Speed: one in five fatalities.
- Drunk Driving: one in four fatalities.
- Distracted Driving: one in five fatalities.
- Half of motor vehicle occupants killed were not wearing their seat belt.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
- During October’s Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement reported 5,550 motorists were cited for seat belt violations from Oct. 9 – 25, a 33 percent drop from last year’s October wave when 8,195 motorists were ticketed and the lowest since 2010.
- Officers, deputies and troopers made 1,513 arrests during the enhanced DWI enforcement campaign Aug. 21 – Sept. 7; that’s compared with 1,340 during the campaign a year ago.
- Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2014 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.