'Grim' milestone: Minnesota's traffic deaths reach 364, tying 2019 total

“With fewer vehicles on the road during the 2020 pandemic, the loss of life on Minnesota roads is beyond disappointing."
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With one month left of 2020, the number of deaths on Minnesota's roads has tied the total number for all of 2019. 

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety announced the "grim" milestone Tuesday, saying preliminary figures show 364 people have died on Minnesota roads since Jan. 1. 

In all of 2019, 364 people died in traffic-related crashes. 

What's more, 30 people die on average on Minnesota roads in the month of December, according to a 10-year average. So 2020 is almost certain to be deadlier than last year.

“With fewer vehicles on the road during the 2020 pandemic, the loss of life on Minnesota roads is beyond disappointing; it is tragic and completely preventable," Mike Hanson, director of the Office of Traffic Safety, said in a statement. 

Data show the 364 deaths on Minnesota roads so far this year include: 

  • 107 speed-related fatal crashes compared to 68 at this time last year
  • 29 are distraction related compared to 27 at this time last year
  • 92 fatalities involved unbelted motorists compared with 66 at this time last year
  • 63 motorcyclists compared with 44 reported at this time last year
  • 40 pedestrians compared with 43 reported this time last year
  • 10 bicyclists, the same as last year

"While most Minnesotans are driving smart, there are a number of people who have used the lighter traffic as a license to disobey laws. The rising number of speed violations and the decline in seat belt usage from 2019 to 2020 cannot be ignored," Hanson added.

"We grieve with all of those experiencing an empty chair at the table for the holidays and we beg each and every one of you to start understanding the consequences of dangerous driving behaviors.”

The Office of Traffic Safety notes that of the 364 traffic deaths this year, 72% involved men. 

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