Minnesota Safety Council: What's Causing Our "Outbreak" of Traffic Deaths? It Might Be Us!
New AAA research and increase in Minnesota fatalities spur call for action

ST. PAUL (February 25, 2016) - Citing new national data about widespread unsafe driver behavior and the sharp increase in traffic deaths statewide, the Minnesota Safety Council is urging all drivers, walkers and bikers to take action.

"Research released today by AAA showed that nearly 90 percent of drivers took risks behind the wheel in the previous month," said Paul Aasen, president of the Minnesota Safety Council. "In Minnesota, we are seeing an outbreak of traffic deaths, crashes and injuries — most of which we can prevent."

The numbers aren't pretty. Traffic deaths were up 13% last year according to preliminary reports from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. And we are off to a bad start in 2016, with 48 deaths year-to-date compared to 30 a year ago.

"Most of us believe we're better drivers than others on the road and don't want to admit a driving error," said Lisa Kons, traffic safety education coordinator for the safety council, "but in fact about 95 percent of all crashes are caused by lack of knowledge and experience, or poor decisions on the part of drivers."

Noting significant increases in motorcycle, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in 2015, the safety council urges all roadway users to take control and focus on key behaviors.

For walkers: Put down the phone, cross street where you are expected, and don't expect vehicles to see you or stop for you. For bicyclists and motorcyclists: Wear a helmet, make yourself visible, obey the rules of the road and expect other vehicles and pedestrians to be surprised by you. For drivers: Buckle up, pay attention and don't drive impaired. Slow down and give yourself a chance to act and react, so that you can avoid a crash — or worse.

The AAA Foundation's new research, contained in the 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index, is available at https://www.aaafoundation.org/2015-traffic-safety-culture-index.

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. For more information, see www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org.

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