The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recently released its preliminary 2008 traffic death count. The good news is that last year there was a dramatic 16 percent decrease in deaths from 2007 and the lowest fatality rate since 1944.
Officials credit more proactive methods to ensure lower traffic deaths. For example, increased seat belt use by motorists is seen throughout Minnesota; enhanced impaired and aggressive driving patrols; road safety improvements and quicker emergency medical responses helped to lower the death count. Then of course higher gas prices during 2008 was a factor in the drop of traffic deaths. Many motorists traveled less and at safer speeds to conserve gasoline.
The preliminary report on DWI arrest is 34,072 and unfortunately, this statistic may continue to grow.
Other proactive methods used by law enforcement agencies were a speed campaign in April that generated 24,000 citations. Enhanced seat belt enforcement campaigns in May and October resulted in more than 12,500 belt citations, and officers participating in a statewide July DWI enforcement campaign arrested more than 3,200 motorists. The yearlong NightCAP (nighttime concentrated alcohol patrol) DWI enforcement efforts that target the deadliest counties for impaired driving netted more than 3,000 DWIs.
The state’s traffic safety efforts will continue throughout 2009. The goal is 400 or fewer fatalities by 2010.