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Ask a Trooper: Traffic fatalities dropping in state

Question: I know you are always talking about the number of traffic deaths in Minnesota for each year, but how many have there been in the past 10 years? It’s hard to think about what the big picture might be without knowing more. Some known traffic safety information about last year (2012) would be great too. Thank you.

Answer: We do talk about the big picture, but probably not as much as we should, so thanks for asking. The annual fatal numbers have been dropping for several years now. A decade ago, there were 655 traffic deaths. Last year there were 380 (preliminary), only the second time we will be under 400 deaths since 1944. The lowest (since 1944) was in 2011, when we had 368 traffic deaths.

This drastic reduction in deaths demonstrates what happens when more people buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and stop driving impaired.

According to Department of Public Safety statistics from 2003-2012, the data shows at least 4,820 persons have been killed. That number might change a bit (possibly up to around 4,830) because the 2012 final count will not be known for a few months yet, and those numbers are always lagging due to reporting logistics.

Preliminary reports also show that at least 26,628 persons were arrested for DWI. That number is also expected to increase by the time the final number is given out. Each year, a third of Minnesota’s crash deaths involve drunk driving. So far, we also know that in 2012 we have killed at least six bicyclists, 38 pedestrians and 53 motorcyclists.

Thanks for asking, I hope this helps your perspective about our traffic safety situation in Minnesota and that everyone will work together to create a traffic safety culture.


Sgt. Curt S. Mowers works with the Minnesota State Patrol.