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Extra enforcement across Minnesota after 'alarming' rise in speeding deaths

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has announced a statewide crackdown.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has said there will be a statewide crackdown on speeding after an "alarming" rise of speed-related fatalities in 2020.

The DPS held a press conference announcing the crackdown Monday, noting that the 120 speeding deaths last year was the highest number since 2008. In total, 397 people lost their lives on Minnesota roads last year, the highest number in the previous five years.

It's also been a deadly start to 2021, with 23 people killed in road incidents since the start of the year, just one fewer than the same period in 2020. Of those, six were speed-related.

The crackdown will see the DPS join the Minnesota Department of Health and MnDOT to implement an "extra enforcement and public outreach campaign."

The DPS' Office of Traffic Safety will use $1 million in federal funding to coordinate the campaign, which will involve the State Patrol, and police and sheriff's departments across Minnesota.

"I don't want to see Minnesota families looking back on 2021 with heavy hearts because they lost a loved one in a speed-related crash," said DPS Commissioner John Harrington Monday. "We need drivers ... to slow down. If they don't change, the crisis won't change."

With fewer vehicles on the road in 2020 due to the pandemic, the Minnesota State Patrol said the number of citations it wrote for drivers traveling more than 100 mph doubled from 533 in 2019 to 1,068 in 2020.

The top speed for which a citation was written was 153 mph in October, while on Monday Col. Matt Langer, Minnesota State Patrol Chief, said that one driver stopped told police they were going 120 mph because they were late to pick up some friends.

In the first month of 2021, the State Patrol has cited 7,252 drivers for speeding, of which 78 were going more than 100 mph. 

The highest speed recorded was 123 mph in Sherburne County, with an 18-year-old behind the wheel.

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