ST. PAUL – Minnesota has now reached 200 road fatalities in 2016, a sad reminder that motorists need to remember what is the most important task when behind the wheel.
Preliminary numbers from the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) show that Minnesota reached the 200 mark on July 23. Last year at this time, the state reported 201 fatalities on July 20, putting the fatalities about on pace with last year’s number of road deaths.
The sad truth is that the crashes that led to each one of these deaths is preventable. Drunk driving, lack of seat belt use, distractions and speed continue to contribute to a majority of fatalities on Minnesota roads, and each one of those behaviors can be avoided.
Too many lives are being lost on Minnesota roads. Recent fatal traffic crashes include:
- A 25-year-old Rosemount man driving a pickup that rolled after running off the road and hitting an embankment. The man was not wearing his seatbelt.
- A 33-year-old Fargo man and a 25-year-old West Fargo woman were broadsided after their vehicle went through a stop sign. Both were unbelted.
- A 31-year-old Cannon Falls man, his 26-year-old wife and their 1-year old child died after trying to pass another vehicle. They were hit by an on-coming semi.
The 200 traffic deaths to date included:
- 27 motorcyclists, compared with 37 reported this time last year.
- 26 pedestrians, compared with 16 reported this time last year.
- 4 bicyclists, compared with 4 reported this time last year.
“We are in the middle of the 100 deadliest days on Minnesota roads,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “With seven weeks left until Labor Day, we need to double our efforts and speak up when we see a dangerous driver. Each one of us needs to commit to safe driving habits, and we need every community in our state to stand together and say ‘enough is enough’ when it comes to deaths on our roads.”
A Decade of Progress
As we remember the lives of the 200 people lost on Minnesota roads this year, it’s important to note the progress being made in reducing fatalities. Through enforcement, education and awareness, the 411 deaths last year were a 17 percent decrease from ten years ago.
Extra Speed Enforcement
In 2015, speed contributed to 78 people losing their lives on Minnesota roads, and law enforcement agencies statewide worked overtime July 8 – 22 to prevent such tragedies. Of the 13 fatal crashes during the campaign, four were speed-related. Speed is a leading factor in crashes, contributing to one out of every five fatalities on Minnesota roads. The summer months are troublesome with an average of 23 speed-related deaths a year during the 100 deadliest days (Memorial Day – Labor Day) in Minnesota.
Slamming the Brakes on Distractions
Time after time we are hearing about distracted driving playing a role in a crash on Minnesota roads. According to the recently released “2015 Crash Facts”, distracted driving-related fatalities spiked by 21 percent last year from the previous year.
Contributing factors in 2015 included:
- Distracted driving – 74 deaths, resulting in a 21 percent increase.
- Drunk driving– 95 deaths, resulting in a 8 percent increase.
- Speed – 78 deaths, resulting in a 17 percent decrease.
- Lack of seat belt – 91 deaths, resulting in a 14 percent decrease.
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’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.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
- 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.
- 2015 marked the deadliest stretch in the last five years on Minnesota roads during the deadliest 100 days of the year (Memorial Day – Labor Day) accounting for 137 of the 411 deaths.
- Law enforcement handed out 7,233 seat belt and 213 child restraint citations during the most recent Click It or Ticket extra enforcement campaign.