Newly released statistics show that the first two months of 2019 were particularly deadly on Minnesota roads, while State Patrol squad cars were hit in record numbers in February.
There were 45 traffic fatalities in Minnesota through Feb. 28, compared to 41 at the same time last year, according to the state Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Ten of this year’s deaths were pedestrians, the state said. As for possible contributing factors, seven people who died were not wearing seat belts, and five were killed while a driver was distracted.
February saw 15 patrol squad cars hit, “the most in any month of any year on record,” read a statement from the DPS that accompanied the data’s release.
In those crashes, eight troopers were injured, the agency said.
By comparison, two troopers’ squad cars were hit in each of the two previous Februaries.
This year’s total of 22 squad cars hit is more than in all of either 2012 or 2013. The highest total in the past 12 years is 28 in 2009.
In the wake of this increasing risk, the patrol again reminded drivers that state law requires that they move over for emergency vehicles if at all possible. If unable, drivers must slow down and cautiously pass any emergency vehicle with its lights activated.
The DPS also revealed that motorists are on an unwelcome pace when it comes to driving drunk. Through the end of February, there were 4,113 arrests for drunken driving in Minnesota, compared with 3,967 this time last year.