Preliminary reports of five traffic deaths this weekend has pushed Minnesota’s death count over the 200-mark for the year, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. By comparison, the state didn’t reach 200 traffic deaths last year until Aug. 21.
The 2013 preliminary count of 202 road deaths represents the loss of 27 more lives compared to the 175 deaths reported at this time last year. At this rate, DPS projects around 450 traffic deaths for 2013, 55 more than the 395 deaths in 2012. If this trend continues, it would represent a second straight year for an increase in annual traffic deaths. There were 368 deaths in 2011, the fewest recorded since 1944.
“Crashes are preventable and are directly related to driver behavior — we can prevent these tragedies by paying attention, driving at safe speeds, driving sober and buckling up,” says Mona Dohman, DPS commissioner.
Officials say a spike in motorcyclist deaths have been one factor for the increase. This year, 38 riders have been killed — 17 in July — compared to 24 at this time in 2012. There were 55 rider deaths in 2012. Officials encourage riders to take a rider training course to hone skills and for motorists to share the road and look twice for riders.
This year's 202 deaths also include two bicyclists and eight pedestrians.
“We should not tolerate this increase in deaths. Now is the time for each of us to rededicate ourselves to being safe behind the wheel,” says Lt. Col. Matt Langer of the State Patrol. “The mistakes we make when driving have very real and very violent results.”