Preliminary reports from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety show that the number of fatal traffic accidents in Minnesota increased in the past year, as 378 people were killed in 2012 compared to the 368 people who died in Minnesota traffic accidents in 2011.
The DPS predicts the final total of 2012 traffic deaths will reach about 390, which is 6% higher than the previous year. Common traffic safety issues such as drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, and non-use of seatbelts are expected to be the main contributing factors for the deaths in 2012.
However, officials believe that despite the increase in traffic fatalities, 2011 and 2012 were the state’s safest years since 1944, when only 356 deaths were reported. Minnesota averaged 547 traffic deaths annually in the mid-1990s, but has generally been seeing a downward trend in the number of traffic fatalities since then.
In 2011, the state of Minnesota had one of the safest and lowest death rates per 100 million vehicle miles that were traveled in the United States.
According to traffic safety officials, the main factors for the increase in 2012 deaths were an increase in motorcyclist fatalities and a warmer winter to start the year, leading to faster and unsafe speeds. The early spring also led to a long, risky and deadly riding season, thus resulting in 53 motorcyclists being killed, which was a 26% spike in numbers compared to the 42 deaths reported in 2011.
As of date, the 378 deaths in 2012 include motorists (281), motorcyclists (53), pedestrians (38), and bicyclists (6).
In 2012, the deadliest months were September (48 deaths), August (42), and October (38). On the other hand, the safest months were April (19 deaths), January (20), and March (23).
The director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety urges everyone to use these victims as reminders and reasons to commit to safer driving behaviors in the year 2013.
DWIs Account for 1/3 of Traffic Deaths
Although results on traffic fatalities caused by intoxicated drivers have not yet been released, drunk drivers annually account for approximately one third of traffic deaths in Minnesota.
Over the New Year’s holiday, Minnesota public safety reports show that approximately 300 drivers were arrested for DWI. Although one individual died in a crash on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve just north of Deer River, authorities have not yet confirmed if the accident was alcohol-related. For the past four years, no Minnesota DWI-related deaths have been reported on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Even first DWI offenses in Minnesota generally lead to thousands of dollars in fees, loss of license for up to one year, and possible jail time.