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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Dave Boxum  651-201-7569
June 30, 2014
Minnesota Traffic Crashes Up, Fatalities Down
Drinking and Driving Cited as Top Contributing Factor in Fatalities in Annual Crash Facts Report


​ST. PAUL – After a jump in 2012, Minnesota traffic fatalities dropped to 387 last year, the second lowest total in a decade. While fewer people died on Minnesota roads, the total number of crashes increased by 12 percent to 77,707 in 2013.
The data is reported in Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2013 and published by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS/OTS). Crash Facts is an annual summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.
“Don’t get lost in the statistics and lose sight of the person behind each one of these numbers — a family member, friend, neighbor or coworker,” said DPS Commissioner Mona Dohman. “While we are making progress in making our roads safer, we need to do more. We need all motorists to buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and never drive impaired.”
As of Friday, there were 137 road deaths compared to 143 fatalities at the same time last year.
Contributing factors
Driver inattention/distraction, failure to yield right-of-way and illegal/unsafe speed continue to be the top contributors to all crashes.
Alcohol was the top contributing factor in traffic fatalities last year with 117 people losing their lives, down from 131 in 2012. Drinking and driving remains the leading cause of traffic deaths, responsible for one of every three traffic fatalities over the past decade.
Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2013 Highlights
Crash Facts 2013 details crashes by vehicle type, contributing factors, driver age and gender, and occurrence of crashes by county, as well as cities with populations of 2,500 or more.
Fatality Rate of Vehicle Miles Traveled
The 2013 fatality rate in Minnesota per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) remains low — at 0.68 deaths, one of the lowest in the nation. The VMT fatality rate has shown dramatic improvement in the last five decades, decreasing from 5.52 in 1966.
Deaths during the Past Decade
The 387 fatalities in 2013 mark an overall downward trend and a nearly 32 percent decrease from a decade ago:
  • 2004 – 567 
  • 2005 – 559 
  • 2006 – 494
  • 2007 – 510 
  • 2008 – 455 
  • 2009 – 421 
  • 2010 – 411 
  • 2011 – 368 
  • 2012 – 395 
  • 2013 – 387
The state’s cornerstone traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths, has helped significantly over the past decade, with elements that include:
  • Increased enforcement coupled with educational efforts and media campaigns
  • MnDOT road engineering enhancements
  • Improved emergency medical and trauma response
Officials also attribute progress to safer vehicles and legislation that is improving driver behavior. For instance, Minnesota’s record-high 94.8 percent seat belt use rate is a dramatic climb from 20 percent in June 1986, before implementation of the first safety belt law.
Breakdown of 2013 Traffic Deaths and Injuries
The 387 fatalities involve:
  • 269 motorists
  • 60 motorcyclists
  • 35 pedestrians
  • 7 ATV riders
  • 6 bicyclists
  • 5 farm equipment occupants
  • 2 snowmobile riders
  • 3 other vehicle types
There were 30,653 total injuries, of which 1,216 were severe and life-altering.
Fatal- and Injury-Crashes
There were 357 fatal crashes (up from 349 in 2012) and 21,960 injury crashes (up from 20,972 the previous year).
Twin Cities vs. Greater Minnesota
Of the 387 deaths, 275 (71 percent) occurred in the 80 counties of Greater Minnesota, while 112 deaths (29 percent) occurred in the Twin Cities’ seven-county metro area.
Seat Belt Use
Of the 269 vehicle occupants killed last year in Minnesota, 94 were not buckled up. Officials say the primary seat belt law has helped further increase compliance, resulting in fewer unbelted traffic deaths. In addition, legislation is helping make a tremendous impact on the rate of severe injuries, with 874 vehicle occupants suffering severe injuries last year compared to more than 4,000 in 1987.
Child Passenger Safety
There were seven children killed (ages 0–7) and 692 injured. Of those killed, two were not properly restrained and of the injured, 27 percent were not restrained. Minnesota statute requires children under age 8 to ride in a federally approved car seat or booster, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller.
Drunk Driving
Last year, 25,719 motorists were arrested for DWI, a 9 percent decrease from 2012 (28,418), but anecdotal evidence suggests the challenge of filling law enforcement vacancies due to retirement may be contributing to the drop. One in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI, and a growing number of females are getting arrested — they represent 25 percent of the incidents in 2013, up 5 percent from 2003. Officials stress the importance of planning ahead for a sober ride and offering to be a sober driver.
There were 60 rider deaths, up from 55 in 2012. Crashes fell 19 percent. More than half of motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle crashes, and the most common contributing factors are illegal or unsafe speed (17 percent), driver inexperience (12 percent) and driver inattention or distraction (10 percent). The number of licensed operators is at an all-time high, and officials urge riders to take rider training to hone skills and to use helmets and protective gear. Motorists must pay attention and look twice for riders.
Teen drivers aged 16¬¬¬–19 are over-represented in traffic crashes; they were in 36 crashes that caused 38 deaths in 2013. Parents are encouraged to talk with teen drivers, reinforcing the importance of obeying traffic laws. They should monitor and supervise training for teen drivers under a variety of conditions on various road types, especially during the first year of licensed driving. 
There were 35 pedestrian deaths in 2013, down from 40 in 2012. Of those killed, 31 were tested and 16 were found to have alcohol in their systems. Officials urge pedestrians to cross where it’s safe and look out for their own safety, as distracted drivers aren’t looking out for them. Motorists must pay attention and stop for crossing pedestrians at both marked and unmarked crosswalks, unless signals communicate otherwise.
There were six bicyclist deaths in 2013, down from seven in 2012. Failure to yield the right-of-way was listed as the top crash factor. Officials say bicyclists should wear helmets, use reflective gear, ride with traffic, and obey traffic signals and signs. Drivers must pay attention, give riders room and check blind spots for riders.
About the Minnesota Department 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
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 the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative.
Recent OTS Activity and Statistics
  • The May 19-June 1 Click It or Ticket campaign reported 10,874 seat belt citations and 279 child restraint tickets from 329 law enforcement agencies.
  • Final reports on enhanced enforcement for distracted driving during April 11-20 reported 827 texting citations from 308 law enforcement agencies.
  • In a continuing effort to advance traffic safety in Minnesota, DPS awarded new federal grants totaling more than $8.5 million for regional partners to support overtime traffic safety enforcement and educational efforts through September 2014.
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