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A New Year, a renewed commitment to saving lives on Minnesota roads

Preliminary reports show there were 380 traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in 2018, compared with 358 in 2017.

Recent Fatalities:

• A 78-year-old woman killed in Mower County when she pulled out from a stop sign on an icy roadway and was broadsided by an oncoming semi that had the right-of-way.

• A 19-year-old man killed in Sherburne County when he spun out on an icy, unlit roadway into the opposite lane of traffic and was broadsided by an oncoming car.

• An unbelted 18-year-old man killed in Lyon County when he drifted into the opposite lane of traffic, sideswiped an oncoming pickup, and went off the road into a ditch. Alcohol is suspected in the crash.

Preliminary numbers show that of the 380 deaths in 2018:

Preventable Deaths:

• At least 27 are known to be distraction-related, compared with 25 in 2017.

• 100 were speed-related, compared with 88 in 2017.

• 121 were alcohol-related, compared with 113 in 2017.

• 90 were not wearing their seat belts, compared with 78 in 2017.

• 58 were motorcyclists, compared with 53 in 2017. Of the 58 motorcyclists who died, 42 (72 percent) were not wearing a helmet.

• Seven were bicyclists, compared with six in 2017.

• 42 were pedestrians, compared with 42 in 2017.

• 266 were males (70 percent) and 114 were females (30 percent).

Monthly Fatalities

Preliminary monthly fatalities in 2018:

• January — 22

• February — 19

• March — 18

• April — 26

• May — 36

• June — 34

• July — 40

• August — 33

• September — 42

• October — 46

• November — 31

• December — 33

2019 Extra Enforcement Campaigns

Officers, deputies and troopers will continue extra enforcement in 2019, focusing on the four dangerous behaviors that contribute to most traffic deaths on our roads.

• Distracted: April 8-30

• Seat belt and child restraints: May 20- June 2

• Speed: June 18-July 21

• DWI: Aug. 16- Sept. 2

• Seat belt and child restraints: Sept. 16-28

• DWI: Multiple dates in November and December

143 People Starting New Year with Legal Problems

• Officers, deputies and troopers made 111 DWI arrests statewide from 6 p.m. New Year's Eve through 6 a.m. New Year's Day.

• There were an additional 32 DWI arrests New Year's Day (6 a.m. to midnight).

Drunk Driving is Dangerous Driving

Last year again proved challenging as preliminary reports show 26,853 drivers were arrested for DWI, compared with 24,862 in 2017.

Prevent Drunk Driving

• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration.

• Speak up — offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.

• Buckle up — wearing your seatbelt is the best defense against a drunk driver.

• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

• Speak Up and Save Lives

• If you are with a driver who is distracted, speak up, tell them to put the phone down and offer to be their designated texter.

• Refuse to drive until every passenger is buckled up.

• Slow down - trying to save a few minutes off your drive isn't worth causing a crash.

• Plan ahead before you go out by designating a sober driver, and if you see a person who has had too much to drink, speak up and find them a safe ride home.

"The time is now to commit to safe driving habits every time you get behind the wheel," said Mike Hanson, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety director. "No more multitasking, no more getting behind when you are impaired, no more speeding because you are in a rush, and no more excuses about not buckling up. Join the majority of Minnesotans who put safety first when driving and together we can stop the preventable deaths on our roads and save lives."