Everyday motorists take a risk by driving. Many of us commute to work or cart children to the football or soccer fields, never suspecting an everyday task to be so dangerous. The unfortunate reality is that motor vehicle crashes can and do occur. However, many of them can be prevented and fatalities reduced by following simple safety procedures.
In June 2016, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety issued an extensive report on the safety of our roadways. This report provides a detailed analysis of crash, injury and death data from 2015. Throughout the state, there were 74,772 motor vehicle crashes with 411 fatalities. While Minnesota had fewer crashes in 2015 than 2014, the number of deaths have risen and are the highest they have been since 2008.
Fatal crashes are more likely to occur with higher speeds on rural roads that are not specifically designed for such traffic like an interstate would be. Fatalities are also more likely to occur between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., which is primetime for commuting. Olmstead County saw a total of 2,132 crashes in 2015 with 14 fatal, 635 with injuries and 1,483 with property damage.
Despite our winter weather wreaking havoc on driving conditions, the Department indicated four main contributing factors in fatal crashes-none of the major causes were weather related. In fact, 332 of the fatalities were on dry surfaces.
The top 4
1. Speed: Moving faster than the posted limit caused 78 deaths.
2. Distractions: Not paying close enough attention caused 74 deaths.
3. Impaired driving: 95 deaths were caused by drunk driving.
4. No seat belt: 91 people died as a result of not wearing a seat belt.
Losing someone before their time is painful and traumatic. Experiencing a fatality on a Minnesota roadway is preventable if all drivers and passengers slow down, keep their eyes and mind focused on the road, avoid drugs and alcohol when behind the wheel and always wear a seat belt.