Minnesota apparently was no different than a number of other states that saw a spike in traffic fatalities last year. The nearly 500 people who died in the North Star State in 2021, represented the most traffic deaths here since 2007.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety noted that the 497 deaths last year were the most since 510 people died on state roads in 2007. The COVID-19 pandemic possibly played a factor in this. With fewer drivers on the road and fewer law enforcement officers, some drivers felt the roads represented a free-for-all, inviting risky behavior.
Speeding and alcohol use are major factors
Throughout the country, states have seen alarming increases in traffic fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that 31,720 died in U.S. motor vehicle crashes during the first nine months of 2021, marking a 12% increase in traffic fatalities compared with the same period the previous year. That national estimate would represent the highest number of fatalities in the first three quarters of a year since 2006.
And like many other states, Minnesota attributed four major factors to the traffic deaths last year. They included:
- Speeding: A total of 162 of the state’s fatalities (33%) were due to drivers who ignored speeding limits.
- Impaired driving through alcohol use: Drunk drivers are an anathema on any road. A total of 124 of Minnesota’s traffic deaths in 2021 were alcohol-related (25%)
- Failure to wear seat belts: Sadly, 109 of those deaths involved a driver or passenger not wearing a seat belt (22%)
- Distracted driving: Talking on the cellphone or with passengers, texting, eating while driving and fiddling with handheld devices or navigation systems are among the types of distracted driving. In 2021, a total of 24 deaths were attributed to distracted driving (5%).
Among the Minnesota fatalities included 67 motorcyclists, 58 pedestrians and nine bicyclists. Stressing safe driving habits is critical.
Understand the hazards of a reckless driver
By understanding the risky behavior of some drivers and remaining alert behind the wheel, you may prevent you and your passengers from becoming statistics. Drive safely and be aware that a road hazard in the form of a reckless driver may be present.