State Patrol reports deadliest start to summer on Minnesota roads in a decade

Increase in deadly crashes

Increase in deadly crashes

It has been the deadliest start to summer in a decade on Minnesota roads, according to Minnesota State Patrol.

Troopers have extra enforcement efforts planned for the rest of July.

“We continue to see speed as a factor for a lot of these fatal crashes,” said Lt. Gordon Shank. “We have seen drivers in the triple digits for speeds. It’s not safe and it’s not acceptable.”

In the last few weeks, 5 EYEWITNESS News has reported on multiple deadly crashes, including a father and daughter killed by a wrong-way driver on I-694 in Oakdale.

“Going to a family’s house to let them know that someone’s lost their life because of something we believe is preventable, it’s hard,” Shank said.

State Patrol is reporting 46 traffic-related deaths on Minnesota roads in the first 25 days of the summer travel season, including a 44% increase in speeding-related deaths when compared to the first half of this decade.

“Unfortunately, it’s not surprising,” said Nichole Morris, research associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s department of mechanical engineering.

Morris studies driver behavior and driver safety and said a number of factors may be leading to speed-related issues on the roads.

“As our roads got bigger and wider, people felt safer and bolder to go faster. Our cars are also getting quieter, so we don’t always pick up on all the little cues that let us know we’re going faster and faster,” Morris said.

She said empty roadways during the pandemic may have also led to an increase in speeding.

“We’re seeing over 35% of our deaths be attributed to speeding and we expect that trend will continue this year, unfortunately,” Morris said.

Minnesota State Patrol plans to boost enforcement throughout the month of July.

That includes an initiative called Project 2023, where troopers will be targeting speeding, lack of seatbelt use, distracted driving and impaired driving

Morris said, if a ticket is not enough to deter dangerous driving behaviors, you may also be able to save money by driving safely.

Many car insurance companies now have apps you can download that will track your driving.

“My husband and I use ours and we have seen our bills go down by hundreds of dollars just by showing that we’re not speeding, we’re not braking hard, we’re staying off our phones while driving. It really does lead to savings,” Morris said.

State Farm uses an app called ‘Drive Safe and Save.’

Nationwide’s app is called ‘SmartRide.’

Progressive has one called ‘Snapshot’ and GEICO’s is called ‘DriveEasy.’

You can search your car insurance company in the app store to see what options may be available to you.