Traffic deaths at this point of 2021 are way up compared to last year, according to a release from state's Office of Traffic Safety.
The office has preliminarily tracked 198 deaths on Minnesota roads so far in 2021, which is well ahead of the 148 deaths that were recorded through the same point in 2020.
Of the nearly 200 road fatalities, 78 involved speeding. That's a rate that Minnesota "hasn't seen in a decade," the release says. There were 49 speed-related deaths through the same date in 2020; 29 in 2019; 54 in 2018; and 42 in 2017.
Traffic Safety Director Mike Hanson encouraged Minnesotans to "close your eyes and pretend it’s your loved one" the next time a fatal crash is covered by the media. "Now close your eyes and imagine speeding down a road, losing control and that loved one is killed because of your actions," Hanson added.
The State Patrol has given out 550 speeding tickets for motorists reaching speeds of 100+ mph this year. Overall, troopers have written more than 38,800 speeding tickets.
"Our troopers are doing all they can to catch dangerous speeders. We are out on the road, we are watching and if you’re speeding, you will be stopped," State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said in the release. "Stop speeding and help stop the dangerous driving behaviors that are leading to lifelong heartache for so many."
Recent speed-related deaths include the following, as stated in the release:
- A 16-year-old boy died when a 20-year-old driver in another vehicle was exceeding the speed limit in Polk County, crossed the centerline and hit the 16-year-old’s vehicle he was riding in head-on.
- A 23-year-old man died when he lost control in Benton County going 75 mph in a 65 mph zone. The driver who died was only wearing a lap belt and was ejected from the vehicle. The belted passenger suffered minor injuries.
- A 37 year-old motorcyclist going 100 mph in a 60 mph zone on a Hennepin Co freeway hit a concrete median wall on a curve. The rider was thrown across the wall and into the path of an oncoming car.
Extra enforcement will be on Minnesota roads through the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.