Numbers show southern Minnesota is moving “Toward Zero Deaths”

For the past 10 years a Minnesota campaign has been working to drive the state “Toward Zero Deaths” on the roads.

Thursday, leaders of that group held their annual conference in our area.

“It’s still hard today, even just writing this was a day I was dreading in many ways and yet looking forward to so it was a tough day but it was a good day.”

Even more than a year later, Jason Jech finds it difficult to talk about what happened last April.

His father Marvin Jech was hit by a truck on highway 42. Marvin was killed on his 45th wedding anniversary.

“He was a great guy he lived to be outdoors, loved his family, would do anything for you and he’s missed to this day,” adds Jech.

He and the rest of his family are here at the Toward Zero Deaths conference to share his father’s story and show the true impact the crash has had on his family.

The yearly conference draws in traffic safety stakeholders from across the area.

In the past 5 years the south-east region of the state has seen a 44% drop in fatality rates on the roads and while that’s moving in the right direction there’s still room for improvement.

“Half of our crashes that result in fatalities, people is still not buckled up so that a really big issue too is making sure people are buckled up in our area,” says Kristing Hernandez, State Toward Zero Deaths Coordinator.

These folks at the conference also hope to come up with a remedy for the plateau in fatality numbers in Minnesota.

“We’ve been under 400 fatal traffic related across the state but we’ve been kind of trending and stuck there,” adds Hernandez.

Which is why they’re looking into new ways to approach reducing those traffic related deaths, like using social media to reach a younger audience and re-educating parents on drivers education.

New techniques that will hopefully prevent families like the Jech’s, from tragedy.

“You’re responsible when you get behind the wheel and when you’re driving and what you do you’re responsible for it has life-changing effects not only on you but on other families and our first responder and everybody it’s a big domino effect that has a lot of impact,” adds Jech.

The statewide goal for this coming year is to have fewer that 350 traffic-related fatalities and fewer than 850 serious injuries.

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