KIMT NEWS 3 — It turns out more people are dying on Minnesota roads. 2012 brought the first increase in traffic deaths since 2007 and the weather could be to blame.
“Any time you have a mild winter, the speeds are up and people drive faster, which contributes to more fatalities on the roadway. More motorcycle deaths, we had an early spring, so people were out on their motorcycles earlier and that number spiked,” said Trooper Thomas Wright of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Of the nearly 400 people who died in 2012, more than one-eighth of them were motorcyclists. 74 of the deaths involved someone going too fast.
So trooper Wright and his co-workers are trying to remind everyone just how fast to go.
“We’re trying to be proactive and enforce the speeding laws. When we see someone speeding down the road, we’ll stop them and issue them a ticket,” Wright said.
But those at the state patrol would rather avoid writing a ticket in the first place.
“The faster you go, the more likely you are to get seriously injured or killed. So we need to make sure we get the word out that people need to slow down and take their time and be safe getting to where they’re going,” Wright said.
While the numbers did go up last year they are on a downward trend overall.
Since they started their initiative in 2003, the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) campaign has helped cut the number of deaths by almost half.
They bring together engineers, educators and first responders to find a solution.
“Working together on initiatives, partnering education with enforcement, making sure that we debrief after crashes to see what kinds of things are happening out there and then what we can do to make it better,” said TZD Spokesperson, Kristine Hernandez.
They are doing thing like changing intersections, adding roundabouts and more, but they put a lot of effort into the education category.
“If we have everybody working towards paying attention when they’re driving, buckling up, driving at safe speeds and calling for a sober ride home we can make a huge difference,” Hernandez said.
In the “Click It or Ticket” campaign from May 20 to June 2, over 10,000 people were ticketed for not wearing a seat belt.
Authorities say doing something as simple as putting on your seat belt would cut down drastically on the deaths.