ST. PAUL – Celebrating our country’s independence is a time to come together with friends and family, but too often bad choices on the road leave a person humiliated by their actions.
The Fourth of July is traditionally one of the worst holidays of the year for drunk driving. On average, 471 drivers will be arrested for DWI and eight motorists will be seriously injured in an alcohol-related crash. With the Fourth of July leading major holidays for DWI arrests per hour, Minnesotans should plan ahead for a sober ride before drinking at the lake or local celebrations.
Holiday DWI Arrests per Hour (2013-2017)
- Fourth of July – 3.9
- Labor Day – 3.8
- St. Patrick’s Day – 3.8
- Memorial Day – 3.6
- Thanksgiving – 3.6
- New Year’s Day – 3.3
- Christmas – 2.5
“With so many ride-share programs available, it’s frustrating to know many people continue to get behind the wheel after drinking,” said Lt. Tiffani Nielson, Minnesota State Patrol. “A DWI can change your life forever. Whether it’s financially or carrying the burden of taking a life, it’s not worth it. Line up a sober ride and celebrate the holiday responsibly.”
Extra Speed Enforcement
With the state’s reputation for unforgiving winters, Minnesotans may think more traffic fatalities take place during the winter months. In reality, the hot summer months lead to dry roads and drivers increasing speeds, which results in many more traffic fatalities. To educate drivers on the dangers of speeding and aggressive driving, a statewide extra enforcement and awareness campaign will take place July 6 – 22.
- Preliminary numbers show 88 people were killed in speed-related crashes in 2017.
- During the 100 deadliest days (Memorial Day – Labor Day) in 2017, preliminary numbers show speed played a role in 23 fatalities.
- Cost of a speeding violation will vary by county, but it will typically cost a driver more than $110 with court fees for traveling 10 mph over the limit. Fines double for those traveling 20 mph over the limit and you can lose your license for six months for going 100 mph or more.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the campaign with more than 300 law enforcement agencies (police, sheriff and state patrol) stepping up enforcement efforts through overtime funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“On a daily basis, I receive fatality reports across Minnesota, and it’s amazing to me the high rate of speeds involved in fatal crashes,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “The faster you go, the harder it is to stop for an unforeseen obstacle in the road or a car that stops unexpectedly. Driving faster won’t get you to your destination that much quicker, so sit back, slow down and enjoy the drive.”
Higher Speeds, Bigger Problems
- Greater potential for loss of vehicle control.
- Increased stopping distance.
- Less time for driver response for crash avoidance.
- Increased crash severity leading to more severe injuries and death.
If Confronted with an Aggressive Driver:
- Get out of their way; disengage.
- Stay calm — reaching your destination safely is your goal.
- Do not challenge them.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Ignore gestures and don’t return them.
- Report aggressive driving (vehicle description, license number, location).
A Deadly Start to the Summer Riding Season
The summer months tend to be the time when there are a greater number of motorcycle fatalities. Speed is the most cited factor in Minnesota single vehicle motorcycle crashes.
- Preliminary numbers show 24 motorcyclists have died on Minnesota roads in 2018 compared with 22 last year at this time.
- Out of the 24 motorcycle deaths in 2018, only six riders were wearing helmets.
"Riders should take safety into their own hands,” said Bill Shaffer, Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center Program Coordinator. “Wear brightly-colored protective gear, stay out of other drivers’ blind spots and stay focused on riding.”
Share the Road
Riders and motorists need to work together to share the road and make safe decisions to prevent fatalities.
- Wear protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet. Wearing brightly-colored gear helps you stay visible to other drivers, and it’s all that separates you from the road and other vehicles in case of a crash.
- Take safety into your own hands. Be prepared for inattentive drivers and other unexpected situations on the road. Stay focused on riding and keep your speed in check.
- Ride sober.
- Take a training course. Courses are available for beginner to expert riders now through September. They’re an opportunity to polish and learn life-saving maneuvers to keep you safe on the road.
- Always look twice for motorcyclists before entering a roadway or changing lanes. Motorcycles are smaller, so their speed and distance is difficult to judge.
- Give riders room to ride, pay attention and drive at safe speeds.
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 (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 child seats for the needy families program.
DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward 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.
About the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center:
TheDPS/MMSC provides high-quality rider education, training and licensing to prevent motorcycle crashes and the resulting deaths and injuries. It was created in the early 1980s to address record high motorcyclist fatalities. It’s a component of the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) initiative and supports the goal through on-cycle and classroom rider training courses, awareness campaigns and informational materials.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics