ST. PAUL — In a continuing effort to advance traffic safety in Northwestern Minnesota, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner Mona Dohman today announced new federal grants totaling $788,176 for area partners to support overtime Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety enforcement and educational efforts that run through Sept. 30, 2013.
“The long road to reducing traffic deaths toward our goal of zero starts with the officers and the people in our communities doing the work every day,” Commissioner Dohman said. “These efforts are saving lives and helping to make our roads safer.”
Northwestern Traffic Death Statistics — 558 Killed During Past Decade
2002-2011 data from these counties: Becker, Beltrami, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, Wadena, Wilkin.
Northwestern traffic deaths have decreased 46 percent from 10 years ago.
- Annual Traffic Deaths: 2002 — 84; 2003 — 66; 2004 — 55; 2005 — 56; 2006 — 49; 2007 — 53; 2008 — 45; 2009 — 48; 2010 — 57; 2011 — 45.
- Seat belt non-use remains a major regional problem. There were 159 unbelted deaths in the past 10 years, accounting for 61 percent of the motorist deaths — signaling poor belt use for the area. Statewide, unbelted deaths account for about 50 percent of the deaths. There were 28 unbelted deaths in the region in 2011.
- Drunk driving remains a serious issue in the area, accounting for 217 deaths in the past 10 years and 23 of the region’s 45 total deaths last year — 51 percent of the region’s total. This percentage is higher than the statewide percentage of drunk driving deaths (around 30 percent).
Commissioner Dohman says these stats are the reasons DPS is investing in traffic safety in the region.
2012 — A Year of Concern on Minnesota Roads
Commissioner Dohman says despite the progress of decreasing state traffic deaths in recent years, 2012 is a year of concern as deaths have increased, due in part to a spike in pedestrian and motorcycle deaths. To-date, there are 286 fatalities, compared to 261 at this time last year.
“For all the progress we have made to make roads safer, this year has demonstrated how unsafe decisions and mistakes behind the wheel can quickly turn our travels into violent tragedies,” Commissioner Dohman said. “It’s our role as bicyclists, drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians to pay attention and be cooperative, not competitive, in traffic.”
Toward Zero Deaths
TZD is the state’s primary traffic safety initiative that applies four strategic areas — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response — to reduce deaths and injuries. DPS, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health lead the program.
This year, DPS Office of Traffic Safety is providing TZD grants of more than $6 million to statewide law enforcement agencies and partners to increase seat belt use, prevent drunk driving, and to encourage attentive driving and driving at safe speeds. The grant dollars also support DWI courts, which provide a rehabilitation process for DWI offenders. The grants are federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights