Five dead on Tuesday. And we’ve just started to ramp up our driving for the summer. Minnesota is at 128 traffic deaths and counting this year. A rough way to calculate injuries is to multiply by 100. That means about 13,000 Minnesotans have been injured in crashes.
What’s going on?
We are going on.
Head-on crashes, pedestrians on freeways, impaired driving, distracted driving — just plain bad driving. All these are in play, and we control them all. We have met the enemy and it is us.
We battle for space on the freeway like scalpers battling for Beyoncé tickets. “No cop, no stop” is a common refrain in our high schools. Speed limits are viewed as advisory, applying to others but not to us.
Road conditions? That’s the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s job; we should be able to drive 10 miles per hour over the limit all summer and all winter.
Let’s build safer roads. Yes, for sure. Just as soon as we — the state’s collective we — can agree how to fund all of this new work.
Let’s build safer cars and have better emergency care. We have both, right now. More people would die each year if not for great trauma care and cars that are as safe as they have ever been.
Let’s get more cops on the roads to get those bad drivers. One truth in law enforcement is that you can’t enforce your way to a better situation. Law enforcement officers simply can’t be everywhere.
So what’s left? Us. You. Me. Everyone who drives. Everyone who rides or walks near or bicycles on a road. We can make Minnesota safer — today! How?
• Pay attention. Our first job as a driver is to focus on driving.
• Slow down. Speeding doesn’t buy you much time and it wipes out the reaction time you may need to avoid a crash. The latest data show links between increased speed limits and fatalities.
• Share the road. This is especially true in our cities, where walkers, bikers, motorcyclists, and train and bus commuters are all more common than ever before.
• Always — always — buckle up!
Paul Aasen is president of the Minnesota Safety Council.