ST. PAUL – Last year marked continued progress in improving traffic safety on Minnesota roads as preliminary data reveal traffic deaths falling to a near record low. According to the latest preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety, 356 people lost their lives in 2014 crashes.
DPS projects a final number of 370 road fatalities after final statistics are evaluated.
This would be the second lowest number since 1944 when 356 people lost their lives.
There was a significant decline in pedestrian deaths in 2014. After peaking at 71 deaths in 1986, pedestrian fatalities dropped to 17 according to preliminary numbers — the lowest number from 1984 – 2014.
Behind the Numbers, Lives Forever Changed
While the declining numbers are encouraging, the end of 2014 was a difficult time for a number of Minnesota families as losses included:
- A husband and wife from Marshall – married 42 years.
- An 88-year-old man from Arco.
- A 35-year-old woman from North Mankato.
“The pain and suffering of even one family is too much. We all have a part in reaching a goal of zero deaths on Minnesota roads,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director.
2014 Preliminary Results (as of January 13, 2015)
- 17 pedestrians – down from 35 in 2013
- Five bicyclists – down from 6 in 2013
- 45 motorcyclists – down from 60 in 2013
The deadliest months in 2014 were August (43), July (40) and September (37). The months with the fewest fatalities were March (19), February (20) and January (28).
Toward Zero Deaths
The Toward Zero Deaths program has played a significant role in saving lives and reducing serious injuries on Minnesota roads. Education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical services have helped reduce fatalities by nearly 41 percent since 2003.
2003 – 2013 Minnesota traffic fatalities
2013 - 387
2012 - 395
2011 - 368
2010 - 421
2009 - 421
2008 - 455
2007 - 510
2006 - 494
2005 - 559
2004 - 567
2003 - 655
Driver distraction and speeding are among the top contributors to crashes but alcohol is the top factor in traffic fatalities in Minnesota. Drunk driving is responsible for one out of every five traffic fatalities.
In 2013, 81 people died from drunk driving-related crashes. Drunk driving-related deaths dropped from 196 to 81 from 2003 – 2013, a nearly 59 percent decline.
Lack of seat belt use also plays a significant role in contributing to driver and passenger deaths. About half of the motorists killed in Minnesota are not buckled up.
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 Zero Deaths
(TZD) traffic safety initiative.