ST PAUL, Minn. — Slow your roll Minnesota. That's the message state safety leaders are trying to get across to drivers as some are choosing to treat our highways more like a racetrack.
"We are really going in a bad direction when it comes to safety on Minnesota roads," said Mike Hanson, Director of the state's Office of Traffic Safety, DPS.
Officials say drivers are becoming what they call extreme speeders, people traveling in excess of 100 miles an hour. A trend which is tragically contributing to a rise in traffic deaths.
"Over one third of the fatalities that have occurred on Minnesota roads so far this year are the direct result of a driver making that decision to speed," said Hanson.
For some perspective, there have been 83 traffic deaths this year in Minnesota and 33 of which were due to speeding. That's compared to 19 speeding-related deaths at this time last year.
"These are real people that are dying out there," said Hanson.
At this rate Hanson says we could be in for a dangerous summer.
"Instead of going to the lake or going to the cabin or going up north for the weekend, many families are going to wind up going to funerals," said Hanson.
Hanson believes the steady rise in speeding related deaths is in direct connection to people being used to not having as many cars on the roads throughout the pandemic.
"That just created a lot more open space for drivers to use and abuse, less congestion, it just made it easier for drivers who chose to make that decision to push on that accelerator pedal and go faster than they should’ve been," said Hanson.
A potentially deadly decision which state officials say can easily be prevented.
"We need drivers to cool down before the temperatures get too hot," explained Hanson. He went on to say, "we need to get back into the mindset of cooperating with each other and being a courteous driver and not being that aggressive driver."
State officials say they’re partnering with law enforcement agencies from across the state to help patrol the highways, and have invested more than a million dollars to do so.
The Department of Public Safety sent the following statistics:
Extra Speed Enforcement and Public Outreach Campaign Background
- The 2020 traffic fatality and speeding issue has continued into 2021 in Minnesota. It is such a concern that the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, in collaboration with the Minnesota departments of Health and Transportation, implemented a statewide extra speed enforcement and public outreach campaign.
- The 2021 campaign enforcement effort includes the Minnesota State Patrol, police and sheriff departments around the state.
The Scope of the Problem in 2020
- There was a significant increase in speed-related incidents in 2020.
- Speed was a primary contributor in the jump from 364 traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in 2019 to the preliminary figure of 395 in 2020.
- Preliminary reports show 120 motorists died in speed-related crashes in 2020, the most since 2008 (125).
- Last year was also the deadliest year on Minnesota roads since 2015 when 411 people died.
- The Minnesota State Patrol saw an alarming increase in the number of drivers going 100 mph or more in 2020.
- Troopers wrote 1,068 citations to drivers in 2020 traveling more than 100 mph, compared to 533 in 2019, a 100 percent increase.
- The top speed was 153 mph for a citation written in October of 2020.
Stats Illustrating the Traffic Fatality and Speed-Related Problems Continuing into 2021
- As of today, preliminary figures show 83 people have died on Minnesota roads so far this year with at least 33 attributed to speed.
- Preliminary figures show 76 people died on Minnesota roads at this time last year.
- The 33 speed-related fatalities in 2021 compares with 19 at this time last year.
- Of the 3 fatal crashes over this past weekend, one was reported as speed related.