ST. PAUL — Preliminary reports of five traffic deaths this weekend has pushed Minnesota’s death count over the 200-mark for the year, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. By comparison, the state didn’t reach 200 traffic deaths last year until Aug. 21.
The 2013 preliminary count of 202 road deaths represents the loss of 27 more lives compared to the 175 deaths reported at this time last year. At this rate, DPS projects around 450 traffic deaths for 2013, 55 more than the 395 deaths in 2012. If this trend continues, it would represent a second straight year for an increase in annual traffic deaths. There were 368 deaths in 2011, the fewest recorded since 1944.
“Crashes are preventable and are directly related to driver behavior — we can prevent these tragedies by paying attention, driving at safe speeds, driving sober and buckling up,” says Mona Dohman, DPS commissioner.
Officials say a spike in motorcyclist deaths have been one factor for the increase. This year, 38 riders have been killed — 17 in July — compared to 24 at this time in 2012. There were 55 rider deaths in 2012. Officials encourage riders to take a rider training course to hone skills and for motorists to share the road and look twice for riders.
This year's 202 deaths also include two bicyclists and eight pedestrians.
“We should not tolerate this increase in deaths. Now is the time for each of us to rededicate ourselves to being safe behind the wheel,” says Lt. Col. Matt Langer of the State Patrol. “The mistakes we make when driving have very real and very violent results.”
Crash Victims Memorial Website Adds Perspective to the 200-Death Milestone
The DPS MinnesotaCrashVictims.org memorial website, launched in 2011, provides a dramatic representation of the lives lost on state roads and “goes beyond the stats,” according to state traffic safety officials. DPS is reminding Minnesotans about the site upon hitting the 200-death milestone to stress safe driving behaviors.
The site allows crash victims’ families to present an intimate and meaningful remembrance of a loved one, while the primary goal is to educate Minnesotans about traffic safety. The site requires families to enter victim crash details, such as seat belt or helmet use, and impaired or distracted driving, to enhance the education component. The site allows families to connect with others who have entered a memorial, and gives visitors an opportunity to post photos and offer remembrances in a victim’s guestbook.
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 (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. OTS also administers state funds for motorcycle safety programs and child seats for needy families.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. 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 trauma response.
• Citation results from a statewide speeding campaign in July will be announced in early August.
• Aug.1 marks the five-year anniversaries of the state’s “no texting and driving” law and enhancements to the teen graduated driver’s licensing law.
• At least 15 motorcyclists have been killed on Minnesota roads to-date in July. Motorcycle rider training courses are available for riders of all skill levels — register at motorcyclesafety.org.
• In June, OTS issued the 2012 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, citing 395 traffic deaths for the year, the first annual increase in deaths since 2007, yet representing a 40 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/reports-statistics/Pages/crash-facts.aspx
• OTS is investing federal grants totaling more than $7 million to 317 law enforcement agencies and community partner groups for enforcement and education campaigns, Oct. 2012–Sept. 30, 2013.
• OTS news archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/Pages/news.aspx.
• OTS PSA archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/audio-visual-library/Pages/default.aspx.
• Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific crash facts: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/reports-statistics/Pages/Fact-sheets.aspx