Commentary: Minnesota Traffic Deaths — What's Going On?
by Paul Aasen, President, Minnesota Safety Council

Five dead on Tuesday. And we've just started to ramp up our driving for the summer. We are at 128 traffic deaths and counting this year. A rough way to calculate injuries is to multiply by 100. That means about 13,000 Minnesotans have been injured in crashes. What's going on?

We are going on. Head on crashes, pedestrians on freeways, impaired driving, distracted driving, just plain bad driving are all in play, and we control it all. We have met the enemy and it is us.

We battle for space on the freeway like ticket brokers battling for Beyoncé tickets. No cop, no stop is a common refrain in our high schools. Speed limits are viewed as advisory applying to others but not to us.

Road conditions? That's MNDOT's job; we should be able to drive 10 over the limit all summer AND all winter.

Let's build safer roads! Yes, for sure! Just as soon as we, the state collective we, can agree how to fund all this new work.

Let's build safer cars and have better emergency care! We have both, right now. More people would die each year if not for great trauma care and cars are as safe as they have ever been.

Let's get more cops on the roads to get those bad drivers! One truth in law enforcement is you can't enforce your way to a better situation. Law enforcement simply can't be everywhere.

So what's left? Us. You. Me. Everyone who drives or rides or walks near or bicycles on a roadway. We can make Minnesota safer — today! How?
  • Pay attention. Our first job as a driver is to focus on driving.
  • Slow down. Speeding doesn't buy you much time and it wipes out the reaction time you may need to avoid a crash. The latest data is showing links between increased speed limits and fatalities.
  • Share the road. This is especially true in our cities where walkers, bikers, motorcyclists, train and bus commuters are all more common than ever before.
  • Always — always — buckle up!
The Minnesota Safety Council is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing injuries on the road, at work, at home, and in the community.
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