From: Sgt. Troy Christianson
Minnesota State Patrol
Question: I know that Minnesota has made a lot of progress in traffic safety and less people are dying on our roads, but what are other states doing?
Answer: For the first time in nearly a decade, preliminary data from the National Safety Council estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 across the United States. That’s a six percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014 — the most dramatic two-year increase in 53 years.
An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention, a seven percent increase over 2015. This means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the roads since 2007 across the country. However, here in Minnesota the numbers are encouraging. Preliminary reports from the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety show 392 people died in traffic crashes in 2016, compared with 411 in 2015.
Several states have their own traffic safety initiatives and programs. Many of them are a part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) programs (such as Click It or Ticket, Bike to School Day, Work Zone Awareness Week, etc.).
Minnesota is involved in the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) program. The TZD approach is based on the belief that even one traffic-related death on our roads is unacceptable. This “zero deaths” idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as Vision Zero and since then has evolved to several state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), including Minnesota, identifying zero deaths as a core objective in their Strategic Highway Safety Plans.
TZD uses a data-driven, interdisciplinary approach that applies education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma services to focus on the issue.
While progress has been made in Minnesota, there are still too many people being injured or killed along our roads. There are still way too many drivers failing to take responsibility for their actions when they get behind the wheel and it’s costing people their lives. Alcohol, speed, distractions and lack of seat-belt use remain the top factors in a majority of these crashes. We need to constantly remember what a big responsibility driving truly is and focus 100 percent of the time on the road and drive like our lives depend on it.
You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.
If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester, Minn., 55901-5848. You may also reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.