2019 Toward Zero Deaths Conference

October 23-24, 2019
St. Cloud, MN

Governor Tim Walz addresses attendees at the 2019 conference

About the Conference

This conference provides a forum for sharing information on best practices in engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency medical/health services and for identifying new approaches to reducing the number of traffic fatalities and life-changing injuries on Minnesota roads.

For general information about the conference, including topics covered, intended audience, and the annual awards presentation, please visit the statewide conference page.

Program Materials

Presentation Materials

Plenary Session: Celebrating Hands-Free 2019

August 1, 2019, marked a significant day in history for the traffic safety community in Minnesota. Attendees heard from the authors of the new hands-free bill and the family members who turned their tragedy into action through a grassroots, citizen-led effort. The session also highlighted the creative campaign to educate Minnesotans on what “hands-free” means, the challenges law enforcement has encountered, and future implications from the new law.

Agency Commissioners’ Comments and Awards Ceremony

Governor Tim Walz joined us for this year's awards ceremony, where the 2019 award winners were honored for their contributions to improving traffic safety in Minnesota.

Plenary Session: Post-Traumatic Growth—Turning Trauma into Action

The suffering caused by traumatic events can sometimes be harnessed as a force for self-improvement and success. The Minnesota State Patrol video, “Lasting Impact,” was shown, followed by a discussion with Matt Maas, the father of the teen featured in the video. This session explored one story about how people have inspired others toward positive change as part of healing from trauma. It also provided strategies for self-care as we consider helping those who help others.

Hashtags, Podcasts, and Snapchat—Oh My!

New initiatives are on the horizon from the national, state, and local levels to reach younger drivers in innovative ways. Data show that watching traditional television has waned, while smartphone applications and digital usage have exploded for youth and new drivers. In this session, attendees learned from Operation Lifesaver and the Saint Anthony Police Department about a variety of social media campaigns.

New Crash Analysis Tools—Guiding Safety Investments

Use of crash data to drive safety investments is a wise use of resources. This session included Carver County’s data-driven crash analysis tool that identifies crash issues and trends based on available crash data and prioritizes roadway safety system investments. Speakers also discussed the new MnDOT CrashMART (Crash Mapping, Analysis and Reporting Tool), which allows MnDOT users to view, filter, and download ten years of crash data to better inform where to implement safety investments.

Engaging with New Communities to Improve Traffic Safety

This session shared strategies and examples of public engagement with new (or nontraditional) communities. Attendees heard about a recently completed project that developed tools for stronger community engagement, as well as recent connections in the East and West Central regions of our state with the Amish community, to improve traffic safety.

Changing Driving Culture with “Stop for Me” Pedestrian Campaign

Pedestrian deaths and injuries represent a growing percentage of all traffic fatalities and serious injuries, and they are at a 25-year high nationally. “Stop for Me” has been a community-driven, grassroots effort with Saint Paul police to bring awareness, education, and enforcement to the issue of pedestrian safety. Study results, implications, and practical findings were discussed.

Teen Toward Zero Deaths: Student Impact on Community Awareness

Teenagers admit it is often more comfortable to listen to their friends than to their parents when talking about critical issues, and traffic safety is no different. Attendees learned how a local group of teens put together a first-ever Teen TZD Summit in northern Minnesota that also included career exploration within the “Four Es.”

Stop the Bleed

Traumatic injuries can happen anywhere at any time: Do you know what to do in those critical seconds? To prepare yourself to assist injured people following a traumatic event, attend this session. Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and call-to-action intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

Planning for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Walking and biking are common modes of transportation for many Minnesotans. But how do we accommodate them safely? Attendees learned from real-world examples of how to incorporate nonmotorized elements and treatments into projects.

Emergency Responders: Proactive Partners in Prevention

Like many diseases, traffic-related trauma is preventable and frequently predictable. By treating it as a disease, traffic safety advocates can work to develop ideas for education and interventions that could potentially reduce the impact and incidence of traffic-related trauma and deaths. This session had three topics for attendees to learn how to replicate preventive efforts in their own home areas.

Solutions for Keeping Aging Drivers Safely on the Road

This interactive session provided an opportunity to learn about innovative ideas, proven programs, and best practices for addressing how aging and medical conditions can affect driving; older driver safety discussions with family members; additional behind-the-wheel training options; and much more. Educational and training opportunities that meet the needs of older drivers and extend safe driving years were also provided.

Trucks, Trains & Traffic Safety

Commercial vehicles are overrepresented nationally both in work zone crashes as well as in crashes with trains. This session discussed public safety tactics and outreach tools that can be used with regard to trains and commercial vehicle’s interaction with motorists and pedestrians. With the disproportionate number of train collisions that occur at crossings already equipped with some type of active warning or traffic control device, this session provided insight about the new emergency notification system as well as the roles law enforcement and education play in mitigating these incidents.

The Risk in Emergency Response

The decisions you make behind the wheel matter. This presentation covered the events of the day Kim Schlau’s two oldest daughters, Jessica and Kelli, were killed by an Illinois State Trooper driving at high speed to a low-priority call while also on a personal cell phone and in-car computer. The trooper lost control of the vehicle and crossed the median, driving into the girls’ car and killing them instantly. Kim discussed the subsequent investigation and the emotional toll on her and her family in the hope that the story would affect responders and remind them on a personal level of the tragic, yet avoidable, consequences of unnecessary high-speed driving during pursuits and responses.

Safety Treatments: How Are They Working?

Understanding which safety treatments are the most effective can be challenging, but research findings can provide clarity. This session reviewed findings from recent research studies on the speed limit change from 55 mph to 60 mph on state highways, rumble strips, and rural conflict warning systems. It also highlighted the amazing positive economic impact TZD has had statewide since it started in 2003 through saving lives and injuries.

CPS Fact or Fiction

This presentation dispelled myths in child passenger safety, reinforced accurate information, and provided resources that support best practices.

Marijuana DWI: Is That a Thing?

Marijuana-impaired driving continues to be one of the most common situations encountered by law enforcement officers in Minnesota. Speakers discussed removing some of the apprehension from a DWI drug arrest and the direct benefits that are seen by teaching officers to detect and remove these drivers from our roadways.

Courtroom Skills

This interactive session develops skills for testifying in court by offering advice, tips, and demonstrations.

Top 10 Questions on Automated Vehicles—and More!

The age of automated vehicles is rapidly advancing, bringing with it the promise of better travel experiences and improved traffic safety. What does this mean for those working in the transportation world? This session examined ten key questions regarding effects as well as updates on Minnesota’s current policy and technology efforts for connected and automated vehicles.

Time-Critical Care

Critical patients need first responders to make quick decisions and accurate interventions and to provide rapid care. This session for police, firefighters, and EMS explored the concepts of time-critical interventions and how to control reaction to adrenaline during stressful events.


Mini-roundabouts are popping up more frequently in Minnesota. Attendees heard from the City of Saint James about its experience replacing two signals with mini-roundabouts and the public’s perspective. The FHWA also shared guidance on the design, placement, and use of mini-roundabouts as part of a detour route this past summer in Crow Wing County.

The Medicinal Application of Marijuana: What’s Legal and What’s Not

It is still a federally illegal substance, but you can get a prescription... right? Attendees learned about marijuana as a medication, the medical cannabis process, and what is (and is not) legal under Minnesota’s medical application of cannabis.

How to Prove Impairment in a DWI Trial

Proving impairment in court is more complex than proving a per se DWI charge and requires detailed inquiries, explanations, and arguments. This session included a presentation by prosecutors and sample testimony by an officer. It provided law enforcement with tips on how to testify persuasively and effectively on impairment. The session also provided prosecutors with strategies on effective direct examination of an officer and arguments in a closing statement to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge or jury that a defendant was impaired by alcohol, controlled substances, or intoxicating substances.

Sharing the Priorities for the Strategic Highway Safety Plan

It’s time to report back from the TZD regional workshops’ outreach efforts for setting the priorities in Minnesota’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). Highlights included traffic safety focus areas and strategies that can be implemented to reach a new goal for the next five years.

Walk, Bike, Fun!

Pedestrian and bicycle safety education is important for the safety and health of everyone wanting to use active transportation. Teaching children through the Walk! Bike! Fun! curriculum is a way to begin establishing a lifelong habit of walking and biking not only for transportation, but also for leisure and exercise. What’s more, MnDOT’s new Bicycle Facility Design Guide is being developed to include new and emerging guidance for designing bicycle facilities in Minnesota and will help designers interpret and apply design practices to create safe, accessible, and comfortable facilities and multimodal networks.

Safety Evaluation Tools

Attendees learned about two different safety evaluation tools: 1) WisDOT’s new statewide policy—Safety Certification Process—which is used to analyze and determine potential safety improvements for all state highway projects with the aim of being more efficient with transportation dollars and improving the overall health of the system by focusing on project-specific purposes and needs rather than standards. 2) Findings from the testing of a dynamic curve-warning system in Crow Wing County.

CPS Cultural Awareness

Parents may need help navigating resources, critical traffic safety information, and laws. Cultural differences can present obstacles that keep you from building meaningful relationships and establishing strong safety partnerships within your community. Whether you work from inside the community, outside the community, or as a visitor, providing effective programs that promote positive and productive interactions is essential. In this session, CPS technicians who have successfully worked with child protective services, tribal communities, and immigrant families shared lessons that can be applied to any culture or community.

eCharging Update

This presentation provided an update on the new features available in eCharging. Users also were given a refresher on how to properly use the DWI, Search Warrant, and Criminal Vehicular Operation/Homicide applications within the eCharging suite to ensure they are receiving maximum benefit from the eCharging system.

Reconstructing Fatal Crashes Involving Impaired Drivers: Building Your Case After Leaving the Scene

Fatal crashes are often complex investigations, and adding a drunk or drugged driver makes them even more complicated. This session explored strategies that can help make cases during the follow-up investigation, including backtracking suspects’ activities leading up to the crash, Drug Recognition Expert reconstruction, crash reenactment, obtaining toxicology results, understanding the legal issues in adjudicating drug-impaired drivers, and preparing for trial.

Legal Update

This session discussed the recent legal changes affecting traffic safety, including recent court decisions and legislative changes.

Flipping the Pyramid: Policies and Practices to Decrease Alcohol-Related Crashes

Between 2011 and 2017 in Minnesota, about 5 percent of crashes were alcohol-related, but about 33 percent of crash deaths were alcohol related. This session described the pyramid of injuries sustained in alcohol-related traffic crashes, and how to “flip the pyramid” to better understand the full scope of the burden of alcohol-related crashes. Speakers discussed evidence-based policies for decreasing these crashes and engaged with participants in discussions about how effective policy and program options can best be integrated into local communities.


Conference attendees are eligible for 7.5 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, 6.0 CPS Continuing Education Units (CEUs), 8.5 EMS CEUs, 9.0 POST credits, and 9.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs).

Conference Planning Committee

View a list of the individuals serving on the 2019 TZD Conference Planning Committee.


The conference is offered by the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Program and the Minnesota Departments of Public Safety, Transportation, and Health. The conference is hosted by the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies and facilitated by the College of Continuing Education.