Alcohol, excessive speed, non-use of seat belts and distraction are four behaviors that continue to rise to the top among fatal road accidents in Minnesota. There is no place on any road for driving drunk or speeding. And people should be aware that not using a seat belt is detrimental to safety and that being on a smartphone or eating behind the wheel is dangerous.
However, these behaviors continue to occur. It seems no matter how long and loud the safety alarm rings, some people do not hear the warnings or simply disregard them. According to a Minnesota Department of Public Safety report released in June 2020, a total of 27,260 people sustained injuries and 364 people died on state roads in 2019.
Drunk driving tops the list
The main contributing factors to the state’s fatal accidents in 2019 accounted for nearly 75 percent of the deaths. Here are the “Big 4,” the number of deaths caused by them and additional information.
- Drunk driving: 89 fatalities. The average blood-alcohol content of a drunk driver in a fatal collision was 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit. Eight percent of all crashes were attributed to alcohol use.
- Speeding: 75 fatalities. Driving at excessive speed is a common factor in fatal crashes.
- Non-use of seat belts: 73 fatalities. Seat belts save the lives of more than 15,000 people annually in Minnesota. An estimated 93.4 percent of Minnesotans abide by the seat belt law.
- Distracted driving: 34 fatalities. Distracted driving is a factor in 9 percent of all crashes. This may include talking and texting on smartphones, talking to passengers, eating, applying makeup, dealing with children and adjusting music or GPS controls.
All drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrian should make safety a priority. Motorists should avoid aggressive driving, use seat belts, drive at safe speeds and pay attention when driving. Be aware, be alert, understand and abide by traffic laws and know that an accident can abruptly occur and disrupt your life and the lives of others.