Traffic fatalities in Minnesota are on pace to rise for the second straight year, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
So far there have been 204 deaths on Minnesota roads, and with some historically dangerous months ahead of us, state officials say we are on pace to easily surpass the 395 deaths that occurred in 2012.
Although there has been a spike in motorcycle related fatalities, Lt. Col Matt Langer of the State Patrol said there is no one reason why the state is seeing an uptick in traffic deaths.
“It would be easier if there was a smoking gun to point to and then target it,” said Matt Langer. “We don’t see any smoking gun.”
Instead, Langer said a variety of factors have contributed to the spike in traffic deaths. Some of the most common factors include:
- Drunk driving
- Inattentive driving
- Failing to wear a seat belt
Authorities have attempted to curb traffic deaths by adding extra patrols to spot certain violations. State agencies recently participated in a speed-enforcement campaign during July, and earlier this year law enforcement officials partook in the nationwide “Click it or Ticket” campaign. Another program – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over – is set to begin in August.
Looking at the numbers
Compared to numbers from years past, the total number of traffic deaths has significantly decreased, but any increase from the previous year should be a cause for concern. In 2011, there were 368 traffic fatalities, which represented the fewest deaths since 1944. The number jumped to 395 in 2012, still low compared to recent years, but that number appears set to jump again in 2013. A closer look at the data shows that the metro areas may be to blame.
- In 2013, three of the seven counties (Carver, Hennepin and Scott) in the metro area have already exceeded the number of traffic deaths they reported in 2012.
- The remaining four counties (Anoka, Dakota, Ramsey and Washington) are all on pace to surpass their totals from 2012.
While the numbers are eye-opening, it’s worth noting that the total number of traffic deaths has significantly decreased from 10 years ago, when the state reported 655 fatalities. Even that number is much less than the record high, which occurred in 1968, when 1,060 people died on Minnesota roads.
To combat the spike, authorities have become ever vigilant in stopping dangerous driving habits. So far this year, police have issued over 1,100 tickets for texting while driving to both teens and adults. In addition, some counties are beginning multi-million dollar construction projects to address some of the more notorious spots for traffic collisions.
Related source: Star-Tribune