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Watch your speed, lead foot: Officials launch campaign to deter speeding

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On nice summer days, people tend to drive faster – and going at a faster, unsafe speed is one of the leading causes of fatalities on Minnesota roads, officials said at a news conference Thursday.

The first half of this year has been especially "challenging and deadly," officials added, noting there have been 185 traffic-related fatalities so far this year, compared to the 157 deaths at this time in 2014.

And typically the summer months – June through August – are the deadliest on state roads, averaging 28 fatalities over those 100 days.

On average, one in five fatal crashes is caused by excess speed, official say.

So to help curb the number of deaths, the Department of Public Safety – along with more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota – will be cracking down on speeding by increasing patrols starting Friday. The effort will run through July 26.

“We live in a fast-paced society, and we understand people are in a hurry to get to their destinations,” Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director, said in a news release. “However, statistics show faster speeds don’t save much time. Slow down and drive the speed limit, as we all want to arrive alive instead of not arriving at all.”

A 30-mile trip at 55 mph takes about 32.7 minutes – that same trip at 75 mph only saves about 8 minutes, the release notes.

Not only can speeding be dangerous, but it's also costly. Typically a ticket for traveling 10 mph over the speed limit will cost $120, while fines double for motorists going 20 mph over the limit, according to the Department of Public Safety's website. Those traveling over 100 mph could lose their license for six months.

Last July, during the state's speeding crackdown, nearly 17,000 people were cited for speed during the 17-day campaign – of those, 12 motorists were driving over 100 mph, Berger notes.

This year's speed enforcement campaign is an overtime initiative, with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Minnesota has a goal of reducing traffic fatalities to 300 by the year 2020 as part of its Toward Zero Deaths campaign. In 2014, preliminary numbers show there were 361 deaths on the state's roads.

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