Preliminary numbers show there have been 16 traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads since Saturday.

To date, there have been 254 traffic fatalities compared with 194 reported at this time last year. That’s a 31 percent increase.

The 254 deaths continue to be the highest year-to-date number in the last five years.

Speed-related traffic deaths continue to be the largest contributing factor in fatal traffic crashes.

The 91 speed-related deaths compare with 64 this time last year. That’s a 42 percent increase from this time last year and nearly a 150 percent increase from this time in 2019.

Unbelted fatalities contributed to 52 deaths so far in 2021 compared with 54 this time last year.

Motorcycle fatalities have also spiked in recent weeks with 40 fatalities compared with 29 reported this time last year. That’s a 38 percent increase.

Drive smart

Driving smart means buckling up, slowing down, driving distraction-free and lining up a sober ride.

Let’s all make a commitment to good driving habits so we can stop the traffic deaths on roads across Minnesota.

If you are with a driver who is distracted, speak up, tell them to put the phone down and offer to be their designated texter.

Refuse to drive until every passenger is buckled up.

Slow down —trying to save a few minutes off your drive isn’t worth causing a crash.

Plan ahead before you go out by designating a sober driver, and if you see a person who has had too much to drink, speak up and find them a safe ride home.

Extra speed patrols

Law enforcement agencies across the state are focusing on slowing down speeding motorists with extra patrols now through July 31.

The extra patrols come on the heels of a deadly 2020 where speed-related deaths (122) were the most since 2008 (125).

The Minnesota State Patrol has cited 44,967 motorists for speeding through July 8 with 646 tickets written for speeds of 100 mph or more.

Speed contributes to about one-in-five fatal or serious injury crashes in Minnesota.

Speed contributes to an average of 97 deaths and 392 serious injuries a year (2016 – 2020).

Extra patrols for impaired driving

Alcohol-related crashes not only take lives, they change them forever. Alcohol-related crashes contribute to an average of 304 life-changing injuries each year. Extra patrols run Aug. 20-Sept. 6.

Drunk driving contributes to about one in four fatal or serious injury crashes in Minnesota.

In 2020, numbers show 131 people died from drunk driving-related crashes, compared with 136 people in 2011, a 4 percent decline.

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