Traffic Safety in the News

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News items link to external sources and may become out-of-date. These stories were accurate at time of publication.

State conference seeks creative ideas for further reducing driving deaths

The Free Press (Mankato), October 23, 2018

Traffic fatalities have been cut nearly in half since the Toward Zero Deaths initiative was founded 15 years ago. But state law enforcement and transportation officials leaders said Tuesday they are going to need to be more creative to make Minnesota's roads even safer.

U of M, St. Paul team up to improve pedestrian safety at crosswalks

KSTP-5 TV News, October 11, 2018

The University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul are teaming up to try to change drivers' behaviors. The St. Paul Police Department has been working on the study at eight treated intersections since May.

Curb cellphone use behind the wheel in Minnesota

Star Tribune, February 15, 2017

This should be a no-brainer. A bipartisan plan to further restrict handheld cellphone use while driving should quickly win legislative approval this session in Minnesota. Far too many motorists and others are killed or injured on roads and highways by distracted driving — a clearly preventable problem.

U.S. DOT Gives the Gift of "A NHTSA Carol" for 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' This Holiday Season

U.S. DOT's Fast Lane Blog, December 20, 2016

The new messages are a sign of the times. In a world of clever texts and tweets, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is trying to catch drivers’ attention with safety messages by lightening things up. On Mondays, MnDOT will use 280 electronic message boards statewide to broadcast the new messages. They will be displayed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the metro area and noon to midnight in other locations.

Editorial: Witty road messages are worthwhile

Albert Lea Tribune, December 1, 2016

The new messages are a sign of the times. In a world of clever texts and tweets, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is trying to catch drivers’ attention with safety messages by lightening things up. On Mondays, MnDOT will use 280 electronic message boards statewide to broadcast the new messages. They will be displayed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the metro area and noon to midnight in other locations.

The Drive: MnDOT tries lighter tone with safety messages

Star Tribune, November 20, 2016

Messages hammering drivers to stay sober, wear their seat belts and curb other dangerous behaviors can often carry a heavy tone, but now in Minnesota they are getting more pithy.

Deputy, prosecutor recognized for Toward Zero Deaths achievements

Mankato Free Press, November 20, 2016

A local sheriff deputy and a county attorney were honored this week for helping keep commuters safe.

Biz Buzz for Nov. 21, 2016

Duluth News Tribune, November 20, 2016

Hires and Promotions

Why 2016 might be the deadliest year for Minnesota pedestrians in a long time

Star Tribune, September 28, 2016

Pedestrian deaths this year in Minnesota have outpaced any other in recent history, making 2016 potentially one of the deadliest years for people on foot in a long time.

Here are the Top 10 most dangerous states for older drivers

USA Today, July 12, 2016

The graying of baby boomers continues to drive concerns about how they fare as drivers as they age. Those age 65 and older expected to make up a quarter of all drivers by 2025, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. A ranking of the most and least dangerous states for senior drivers from holds a few surprises.

Intersection, lane drifting crashes up regionally

Mankato Free Press, April 26, 2016

Crashes at intersections and leaving traffic lanes remain a top cause of fatal and serious crashes in south-central Minnesota. And while serious injury crashes have been on a general downward trend the past five years, there was a spike last year in fatalities.

South Central Minnesota Toward Zero Death Regional Workshop Reflects On Progress

KEYC TV News, April 26, 2016

While progress is being made in reducing traffic–related deaths, local representatives are on a mission to keep those numbers on the decline.

Stickers Latest Effort to Eliminate Traffic Deaths

Star Tribune, March 6, 2016

We are only two months and a week into the new year and it’s already been bloody and deadly on Minnesota roads.

Texting and Driving: Message Still Not Received

Kare-11 TV News, November 16, 2015

Distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota, and in 2014, driver inattention or distraction contributed to 61 deaths and nearly 8,000 injuries on Minnesota roads.

​​MnDOT vehicles get Toward Zero Deaths decal

MnDOT Newsline, Jan. 6, 2016

​All MnDOT on-road vehicles are getting the Toward Zero Deaths decal placed on them as a show of support to reduce traffic-related deaths and severe injuries.

Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Distraction-free Driving PSA Contest

Shreya Dixit Memorial Foundation, March 4, 2015

The Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation is partnering with the Annual EDU Film Festival and Independent Film Project of Minnesota to offer a new Distraction-free Driving PSA Contest. The contest is open to both high school and college age students in Minnesota and Connecticut. 

TZD goal is zero traffic fatalities

Mayo Clinic, January 2015

In 2003, more than than 650 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Minnesota, and fatalities were projected to increase every year well into the next decade. That sobering forecast led to the creation of Toward Zero Deaths (TZD)—a traffic safety program whose ultimate goal is to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths on Minnesota roads to zero. In the 11 years since then, traffic fatalities have dropped more than 40 percent, and the program has set a new goal of reducing traffic-related deaths to 300 or fewer by 2020.

State works to cut the risk on country roads

Star Tribune, December 29, 2014

The state is installing electronic signs with yellow blinking lights that read, “Traffic Approaching When Flashing” on rural roads across the Minnesota countryside. The signs were turned on early this month. They're being installed at 50 rural intersections deemed most at risk for crashes because of sight lines, topography, crash history and other factors.

Distracted driving poses growing challenge

Duluth News Tribune, November 13, 2014

Transportation and law enforcement officials have set lofty goals for reducing traffic deaths in Minnesota, but experts stressed at the 2014 Toward Zero Deaths Conference in Duluth that it won’t get any easier to change the culture of distracted driving.

Minnesotans? Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel

Star Tribune, July 10, 2014

Distracted driving is a problem, but it’s within our reach as individuals to make a difference.

State launches work-zone safety campaign as part of TZD effort

A statewide safety campaign asking motorists to hang up their phones and pay attention in work zones began June 9 and will continue through the construction season. Motorists driving around Minnesota this summer will see the “Orange Cones. No Phones.” message on billboards as a reminder to hang up their phone and pay attention to help keep workers—and themselves—safe.  Radio ads also will be played throughout the state to reach a larger audience.

Student scholarships available for 2014 Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities

A limited number of conference scholarships are available for college students to attend the 2014 Lifesavers conference for a reduced rate.

MnDOT expands median barriers in southern Minn.

KARE 11, October 18, 2013

Roughly 10 miles of southbound I-35 south of Owatonna is down to one lane so that crews can install new steel cable median barriers. The average cost of those barriers is $140,000 per mile, and MnDOT has installed them along more than 250 miles of divided highways throughout the state since the program began more than a decade ago.

Minnesota's teen driver rules cut down on crashes

Star Tribune, September 28, 2013

A state law meant to prevent newly minted drivers from dying on the roads has done just that. Five years after Minnesota put restrictions on teenagers’ licenses, the number of fatalities in crashes involving teen drivers has been cut in half, state data show.

State Patrol launches new seat belt initiative

Brainerd Dispatch, Sept. 24, 2013

A new Minnesota State Patrol initiative is being launched at high school football games with the goal of encouraging teens to make the right play by buckling their seat belts.

Good Question: Who Sets The Speed Limits?

WCCO-News, July 11, 2013

Speed limits have been around in Minnesota since 1881. Back then, a streetcar in Duluth couldn’t go above 6 mph. It wasn’t until 1937 that the state statutes as we know them were written.

Making the Grade

Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, June 1, 2013

The Toward Zero Deaths program, which launched 10 years ago, is committed to reducing the number of traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads. We've come a long way since 1990 when there were 568 traffic fatalities, but the goal for 2014 is 350. Buckle up, Minnesota.

States driven toward 'zero death' crash goal 

Chicago Tribune, February 18, 2013

University of Minnesota research found that those states, including Minnesota, that have worked the longest and most actively to reduce deaths from traffic crashes have been the most successful. Lee W. Munnich, Jr., lead researcher and director of the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety, is quoted.

Share Your Idea to Improve Minnesota Traffic Safety

Departement of Public Safety, January 2013

The Office of Traffic Safety is seeking new ideas for behavioral change projects likely to decrease deaths and serious injuries on Minnesota roadways.  To share your idea, complete the idea solicitation form. Ideas are due on or before March 1.

Automated speed enforcement study finds public support in Minnesota

Catalyst, December 2012

As part of a recent study, U of M researchers asked Minnesotans what they think of automated speed enforcement. They found strong support—particularly for ASE in work and school zones. Frank Douma, associate director of the State and Local Policy Program in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, shared findings of the study at the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Conference in October.

Ask a Trooper: Crosswalks and Pedestrians

Northland's NewsCenter, September 18, 2012

Most drivers seem to be unaware of the requirement to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and it seems like a lot of pedestrians are getting hit in recent times.

Minnesota cities upgrade to address crosswalk danger

Star Tribune, October 6, 2012

Cities are investing in new technology to make crosswalk markings more eye-catching, but experts stress that flash alone won't improve safety.

MnDOT wages October campaign for pedestrian safety

Minnesota Public Radio, September 25, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — October is the most dangerous month for pedestrians. The days are shorter, the nights longer, and drivers have a harder time seeing pedestrians. With that in mind, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials will be out waving signs in busy intersections today to encourage drivers and pedestrians to watch out for each other.

Police crackdown can curb texting while driving, teens say

USA Today, August 28, 2012

Teenagers say that being in a crash while texting and driving is the single most effective way to reduce the deadly practice, followed closely by knowing someone who was involved in such a crash, according to a new survey of teen attitudes commissioned by State Farm. More than 80 percent of teens believe that tougher penalties for those caught texting while driving and heavier police enforcement also are deterrents.

Minnesota primary seat belt law saves lives and money

GHSA Directions in Highway Safety, Summer 2012

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety has published a report looking at the impacts of Minnesota’s primary seat belt law. The study estimates that the primary seat belt law has resulted in between 68 and 92 fewer deaths and between 320 and 550 fewer severe injuries in the two years since the law went into effect.

Ask a trooper: ‘Unmarked’ vehicles allow State Patrol to observe

Duluth News Tribune, August 05, 2012

In the past year or so, I’ve observed on several occasions a “flat top” with no markings having pulled over a motorist on London Road in Duluth...

MnDOT aims to educate motorists on aggressive driving

KARE 11, July 30, 2012

We've all encountered them... angry drivers who wear their emotions on their sleeve, turning vehicles into potentially deadly weapons. In truth, some of us have been "that" guy or gal. A new television spot launched by MnDOT and a new website aim to educate Minnesota motorists on just what constitutes aggressive driving.

VIDEO: Toward Zero Deaths Seat Belt Campaign Kick Off

May 15, 2012

The Southeast Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths coalition, which includes law enforcement from 11 counties, including Rice, will have extra seat belt enforcement patrol from May 21 to June 3.

Red Wing Seatbelt PSA

May 14, 2012

May is Seatbelt Awareness Month! Starring Eric Schmitt, Patrick Harris, and Reece Polivka

Ticket tally dips in Minnesota seat belt push

Star Tribune, June 11, 2012

Fewer drivers were ticketed for violating Minnesota's mandatory seat-belt law during a recent enforcement campaign than in past years, indicating that more motorists are buckling up, authorities said. The "Click It or Ticket" campaigns are a visible way to enforce the law, said Frank Douma, author of a recent University of Minnesota study on the impacts of the primary seat belt law.

Cable barriers might have saved four teens killed on I-94

Star Tribune, February 23, 2012

Limited funds mean state must be selective about where they're placed.

Teen passengers: 'The other distraction' for teen drivers

PRNewswire, January 24, 2012

A pair of studies by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm identify factors that may lead teens to drive with multiple peer passengers, and how those passengers may affect the driver's behavior just before a serious crash.

Our view: Huge drop in traffic fatalities shows laws work

PostBulletin, January 9, 2012

During the past three or four years, we've made a habit of checking Minnesota's "Toward Zero Deaths" website on a fairly regular basis. Our main item of interest is the graph in the upper right that shows the up-to-date number of fatalities that have occurred in Minnesota during the current year, and compares that figure to the number of fatalities that had occurred by that date the previous year.