State reaches highest number of traffic deaths since 2007

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The State of Minnesota set a grim new mark in 2021.

According to a release by the Department of Public Safety Tuesday, there were 497 traffic fatalities last year, the most since 2007 when there were 510 traffic deaths. These are according to preliminary figures reported by DPS.

“I’m saddened knowing how many families lost a loved one in a traffic crash in 2021,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “With sadness, there is also anger. Anger that so many motorists are taking the privilege of driving for granted. Some drivers are deliberately exceeding the speed limit, failing to put down the phone, refusing to buckle up and making the poor choice of driving impaired. Until every motorist takes responsibility for their own actions, we’ll continue to see the carnage on our roads. Let’s make sure 2022 isn’t as heartbreaking for Minnesotans.”

The state has now averaged 378 traffic deaths a year during a five-year period between 2016-2020. Minnesota’s first death of 2022 came on New Year’s Day in Goodhue County, when an unbelted male driver was killed.

Alcohol and driving too fast for the conditions are suspected in contributing to the crash.

Speed and unbelted motorists largely drove the increase in fatalities. Of the nearly 500 deaths last year, 162 were speed-related, up by 33% from 2020.

By comparison, there were 109 unbelted fatalities in 2021, four percent higher than 2020.

Preliminary information also shows:

• 124 alcohol-related deaths compared with 135 in 2020 and 114 in 2019.

• 24 distracted-related deaths compared with 32 in 2020 and 34 in 2019.

• 109 unbelted motorist deaths compared with 105 in 2020 and 73 in 2019.

• 67 motorcyclists compared with 64 in 2020 and 44 in 2019.

• 58 pedestrians compared with 45 in 2020 and 50 in 2019.

• Nine bicyclists compared with 10 reported in 2020 and 10 in 2019.