Resolve to be a better and safer driver in 2020

Star Herald Editorial

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recently released its 2019 traffic data, and it appears there are many ways we can improve our driving habits and resolve to be safer in 2020.

Preliminary reports show there were 364 traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in 2019, compared with 381 in 2018.

Recent fatalities in 2019 include:

•A 17-year-old passenger killed when the vehicle he was riding in collided with a semitrailer in southeast Minnesota.

•A 33-year-old man killed in Pine County when a pickup struck the pedestrian who was walking near or on Highway 48.

•A 55-year-old man killed in Plymouth when a semitrailer ran a red light at an intersection and struck an SUV.

•An unbelted 69-year-old man killed in Wilkin County when he veered into the opposite lane of traffic, striking an oncoming car head-on on an unlit, icy roadway. Alcohol is suspected in the crash.

The DPS report provided a whole slew of data ranging from the numbers of deaths per month (summer months are more deadly) to the numbers of DWI arrests already in 2020.

State officials didn’t offer much commentary for the statistics, but the facts speak for themselves: Crashes continue to take lives of Minnesotans, and sadly, many are preventable.

Preliminary numbers show that of the 364 deaths in 2019:

•At least 27 are known to be distraction-related, compared with 29 in 2018. 

•71 were speed-related, compared with 113 in 2018.

•102 were alcohol-related, compared with 123 in 2018.

•72 were not wearing their seat belts, compared with 96 in 2018.

•44 were motorcyclists, compared with 58 in 2018. 

•11 were bicyclists, compared with seven in 2018.

•50 were pedestrians, compared with 45 in 2018.

•235 were males (65 percent) and 129 were females (35 percent).

 

What can we do?

Law enforcement officers and public safety officials are doing what they can to make the roads safer, but it’s up to all of us to do better behind the wheel.

To prevent crashes the DPS offers the following advice:

•Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration.

•Offer to be a designated driver, or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.

•If you see a person who has had too much to drink, speak up and find them a safe ride home.

•Buckle up – wearing your seat belt is the best defense against a drunk driver.

•Report drunk driving – call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

•If you are with a driver who is distracted, speak up. Tell them to put the phone down and offer to text for them.

•Insist all passengers buckle up.

•Slow down — trying to save a few minutes off your drive isn’t worth causing a crash.

 

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