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Video: Safety Officials Alarmed Over Spike In Deadly Crashes On Minnesota Roads

Dec 06, 2020 02:29PM ● By Editor

Watch the WCCO-TV Report here

More people have died on Minnesota roads this year than 2019, despite significantly fewer drivers commuting to work and school.

The Department of Public Safety says their preliminary figures show 367 people have died on Minnesota roads this year so far. That’s compared with 338 this time last year and 364 fatalities in all of 2019.

“[I’m] quite honestly alarmed by what we’re seeing,” said Mike Hanson, DPS director of traffic safety.

He says these numbers are not aligning with a year that saw 60% less traffic on Minnesota roadways.

“We were expecting to see the same number of drop-off in the fatal and serious crashes that were taking place,” said Hanson.

Hanson says speed is the top contributor to deadly crashes in Minnesota in 2020, followed by impairment and distracted driving. Hanson says officers are citing more excessive speed tickets than ever before.

“We have some cases where officers, troopers or deputies are stopping multiple violations in a single shift for people driving in excessive speed of over 100 mph,” said Hanson.

He says these serious crashes have a ripple effect in a pandemic which strains hospital staff more than they already are.

“Every one of those resources is need to treat patients who are ill with COVID through no fault of their own,” said Hanson.

WCCO asked Minnesota drivers what they believe is causing people to speed and drive poorly this year. Many believe it’s because of the stress so many are under right now.

“If the light is green and you don’t move right away, people are honking and giving you the finger, if you don’t move right away,” said Charlie Murphy. “COVID is bringing out, not just the best of us, but some of the worst of us.”

“It’s a little bit scary out there when you’re driving and you have to be careful, you really do,” said Jane Wigdahl. “That anxiety impacts your driving practices, right?”

Murphy had a good reminder for all before heading out on the roads this holiday season.

“We’re not in a hurry to get there, even when we’re running late right now. We just got to get there when we get there, and enjoy the moment,” said Murphy.

To try and reduce the number of deaths on the road in the last month of the year, patrols across the state are conducting extra DWI enforcement on Minnesota roads through Dec. 31.