Buckle up. Slow down. Avoid alcohol and drugs before driving. And get rid of distractions.
That advice comes from the McLeod County Towards Zero Deaths Safe Roads Coalition following the release of preliminary traffic statistics that show traffic crashes claimed six lives in the county during 2018. That’s up from three traffic fatalities in 2017, and one in 2016.
The death-toll increase was similar to a statewide rise for the year. A preliminary report from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety showed 380 people died on the state’s roads in 2018, compared to 358 in 2017.
The jump deviates from a general downward trend in overall fatal traffic crashes, both in the county and state. As recently as 2007, Minnesota typically had more than 500 annual traffic fatalities. And in the early 1970s, the fatality count often topped 1,000, though the total number of motorist-driven miles was only a fraction of today’s.
“(It) definitely was a bad year for McLeod County comparatively,” said Scott Wawrzyniak, a patrol sergeant for the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office and a member of the coalition.
“Everyone needs to take responsibility while they are driving and we need to start that trend now,” Wawrzyniak said. “It begins with each individual.”
McLeod County’s six fatalities resulted from four crashes, including one in December that claimed three lives on County Road 7 north of Stewart. A total of 112 injury crashes occurred during the year, resulting in 180 people injured.
December was the heaviest month for traffic crashes in the county, accounting for 65 of the year’s 546 crashes.
Other preliminary findings:
● August had the most injury collisions, with 17 reported. ● 111 collisions occurred on a Friday, the most hazardous day of the week for crashes.