January was one of the safest months on Minnesota roads in more than 20 years, according to a report by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
According to collision data, nine individuals lost their lives in automobile accidents in Minnesota during the month of January. The previous low for traffic deaths in the month of January was 15, set in 2011. Traffic fatality data dates back to 1984.
Despite the encouraging numbers, OTS Director Donna Berger said the number is still too high.
“While it is important to highlight the decline in traffic deaths across Minnesota, we must not forget that statistics equal real people and at least nine families said good-bye to loved ones in January,” said Berger.
As you can see by the data below, Minnesota has been making great strides in recent years to reduce traffic deaths in a month that’s typically plagued by poor driving conditions.
Lowest January Totals Since 1984
- January 2015 – 9
- January 2011 – 15
- January 2013 – 16
- January 1991 – 16
Why The Decline?
Although it’s difficult to determine exactly why the number of traffic fatalities in January were so low in 2015, it’s easy to make some educated guesses. First is the increased efforts to get drivers to buckle up and ensure they never drive drunk. Minnesota police have been very vocal about their “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaigns, and they’ve also announced numerous heightened patrol weekends during holidays in an effort to curb drunk driving.
Some crashes are harder to prevent than others, but Lt. Tiffani Nielson said drivers need to continue to make smart decisions behind the wheel.
“The vast majority of crashes are preventable,” said Lt. Tiffani Nielson, Minnesota State Patrol. “We encourage all motorists to drive to the conditions of the road, wear your seat belt, pay attention and never drink and drive.”
The traffic report from the Office of Traffic Safety also listed the most common contributing factors in fatal accidents. The OTS found:
- Speeding played a role in one in five deaths.
- A drunk driver was involved in one in five deaths.
- Distracted driving was a factor one in four fatalities.
- About half of the motorists killed in auto accidents were not wearing a seat belt.
Related source: Minnesota DPS OTS