Question: It seems like I am hearing about a lot of horrific crashes lately in the media. Are more people dying or being hurt in crashes this year?

Answer: Too many lives are being lost on Minnesota roads. Preliminary figures from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety show 102 people have died on Minnesota roads since Jan. 1, compared to 82 last year at this time.

The state reported its 100th traffic death (preliminary) on April 21. This is the earliest date reaching the preliminary figure of 100 traffic fatalities in the last six years. These fatalities include 11 pedestrians, two motorcyclists, and two bicyclists.

Drivers aren’t just taking risks on highways and in the more populated regions. The 80 counties in greater Minnesota represent just half of Minnesota’s population, yet account for about 65 percent of traffic fatalities.

Speed continues to play a major role in Minnesota traffic fatalities contributing to at least 40 of these fatal crashes, making up 27 percent of all fatalities. Ever since the pandemic began in Minnesota, some drivers believe that they’ve been given a license to speed and are treating the open roads like a raceway. Speeding is a decision that makes the other driving mistakes worse.

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Unbelted motorists are helping drive the significant rise in traffic fatalities this year, with 31 unbelted deaths or 35 percent of lives lost who were not wearing their seat belt. Speak up if you are driving or the passenger and make sure everyone is properly buckled up. Seat belts are the number one tool you have in the car to keep you secured from being tossed around or ejected out of the car in a crash.

Nearly one out of every four deaths on Minnesota roads is drunk driving-related. The decision to get behind the wheel while being impaired from drugs or alcohol is a costly mistake and changes lives forever. Drive smart by always planning for a safe and a sober ride to avoid a lifetime of regret.

Distracted driving is killing hopes, dreams and lives and leaving people with serious injuries that tragically affect their day to day living. Anything that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, mind off the task of driving is potentially deadly. A combination of all of these, like texting while driving, distracts you for up to 4 to 6 seconds. That is like traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded.

As the weather heats up, we plead with drivers to cool it when it comes to dangerous driving behaviors. Share the roadways with those walking, biking, riding motorcycles or moving farming equipment. Be aware and be patient, keeping all users safe.

Help us save lives and prevent life changing injuries. Drive smart…Always Buckle Up, Avoid Speed Risks, Drive Sober and Drive distracted free. Go to DriveSmartMN.org for more information.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).