ST. PAUL – The preliminary number of 397 traffic fatalities last year is a sad reminder that Minnesotans must recommit to safe choices both behind the wheel and on the street if tragedies are to decrease. The number of lives lost so far last year is below the 2015 final figure of 411, but it is projected to go up as final crash data is evaluated.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) projects a final number of 412 road fatalities.
Pedestrian deaths climbed again in 2016 with a preliminary figure of 60 fatalities compared with a final figure of 41 in 2015. This is the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1991 (61) and a 50 percent increase in fatalities in the past five years (2012 – 2016).
“It is distressing to see such an increase in pedestrian deaths. These are our neighbors, our coworkers, our family members and friends,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “It’s especially upsetting because this doesn’t have to happen. These tragedies are preventable but it requires both motorists and pedestrians to do their part. If we all follow some simple guidelines such as paying attention, lives will be saved.”
- Treat every corner as a crosswalk and stop for pedestrians crossing at all corners and crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked — this is the law.
- Drive at safe speeds and be alert for pedestrians.
- Pay attention: Drive distracted free. Driver distraction is a leading cause of pedestrian/vehicle crashes.
Pedestrians can ensure their safety by:
- Cross at a corner, a marked crosswalk or where a traffic light is present.
- Never cross in the middle of the road or walk down an interstate.
- Wear bright colored clothing when walking at night.
- Pay attention and look both ways before crossing.
- Even if you have the right of way, it’s important to check for vehicles, especially those that might be making a right turn into your path.
- Making eye contact with all drivers before you cross, and as you are walking across the street, can ensure your safety.
Traffic Deaths to Date
The preliminary figures to date include:
- 362 fatal crashes, compared with a final figure of 375 in 2015.
- 53 motorcyclists, compared with a final figure of 61 in 2015.
- 7 bicyclists, compared with a final figure of 10 in 2015.
- 60 pedestrians, compared with a final figure of 41 in 2015.
2007 – 2016 Minnesota traffic fatalities
Extra Enforcement Keeps People Safe
In 2017, 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 schedule extra patrols to focus on drunk driving, speed, occupant protection (seat belts and child seats) and distracted driving during designated enforcement campaigns.
Through education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response, traffic fatalities have been reduced significantly since the mid-2000s.
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
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’sToward 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
- Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and troopers from more than 300 law enforcement agencies issued 4,351 seat belt citations and 166 child seat citations Oct. 14 – 30.
- Law enforcement statewide made 1,351 DWI arrests during the summer extra enforcement period Aug. 19 – Sept. 5.
- Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2015 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.
- The 2015 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Impaired Driving Facts report highlights impaired driving data in areas such as fatalities, DWIs, repeat offenders and alcohol-related crash statistics.