Trend shows fatalities are decreasing overall

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety has released its 2018 statistics for traffic incidents across the state, which shows a continued climb in traffic fatalities. While Minnesota saw a 6 percent increase in traffic fatalities from the previous year (358), Minnesota continues to see a downward trend in traffic fatalities over five-year periods. From 2009-2013, Minnesota saw an average of 396 deaths per year. In the last five years, there have been an average of 381 deaths, a 4 percent decrease.

The top four contributing factors in Minnesota 2018 traffic fatalities continue to be the following:

• Speed: 113

• Failing to buckle up: 96

• Impaired driving: 84

• Distractions: 29

“Our goal is to drive Minnesota traffic deaths to zero,” Mike Hanson, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic safety director, said in a press release. “We can’t reach that goal through enforcement alone. We need the help of every driver and everyone on the road. We are losing too many of our friends and family members to completely preventable events.  Help drive the traffic fatalities down by doing your part. That means always buckling up, driving hands-free and putting the distractions away, always lining up a sober ride and driving the speed limit or according to the conditions of the road.”

In 2018, Minnesota saw 79,215 traffic crashes, involving 146,107 motor vehicles. 172,908 people were involved in crashes. 381 people died, and 27,877 people were injured. That averages to 217 crashes, 76 injuries, and a little over one death per day. 

Drunk driving continues to be a major issue on Minnesota roads with 26,414 DWIs given in 2018, which equates to nearly three DWI arrests per hour.

The numbers also reveal the following:

• 123 alcohol-related deaths. Alcohol-related is defined as any evidence of alcohol detected in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist.

• 84 drunk driving fatalities, the most since 2015 (95). Drunk driving-related is defined as any driver with a BAC of .08 or above.

• 2,156 alcohol-related injuries.

• One in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI.

So far through 2019, 223 people lost their lives in traffic crashes, compared with 218 reported this time last year. Those deaths included 41 unbelted motorists. Thirty-three of those deaths were on motorcycles, compared to 45 riders at this time last year; 25 pedestrians, compared with 18 this time last year; and six bicyclists, compared with five this time last year. 

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