ROSEVILLE, Minn. - The Memorial Day holiday usually serves as the unofficial kickoff to summer, with families hitting the road for the cabin or other outdoor destinations.
Unfortunately, it also marks the start of the deadliest stretch of the year on Minnesota roads. Statistics released by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Thursday reveal that 121 of the 358 road fatalities registered in the Gopher State last year came during the 100 days between Memorial and Labor Day. That's 34 percent.
Of those 121 fatalities, DPS says 27 involved drunk driving, 21 excess speed, and 11 distracted driving. Sixteen of those who died were not wearing a seat belt.
Here are some things the State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will be doing this summer to keep motorists safe.
Click it or ticket: Extra seat belt enforcement now through June 3
- You may be a safe driver but you never know what to expect from others on the road. Buckling up and having your passengers properly secured in the vehicle is the first line of defense in a crash.
Stepped up speed enforcement July 6-July 22
- As the weather heats up, so do speeds.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over: Extra DWI enforcement campaign Aug. 17 - Sept. 2.
- Alcohol-related crashes not only take lives, they change them forever. An average of 276 life-changing injuries are caused by alcohol-related crashes each year.
Speak Up and Save Lives
- If you are with a driver who is distracted, speak up, tell them to put the phone down and offer to be their designated texter.
- Refuse to drive until every passenger is buckled up.
- Slow down —trying to save a few minutes off your drive isn’t worth causing a crash.
- Plan ahead before you go out by designating a sober driver, and if you see a person who has had too much to drink, speak up and find them a safe ride home.