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TZD: Coming together to save lives

Oct 16, 2022 10:47AM ● By Editor
Just weeks shy of her 20th birthday and Thanksgiving, Breanna died in a drunk driving crash near Lake Elmo in 2006. Breanna was going around 100 mph. She was intoxicated (BAC of .13), not wearing her seat belt and texting at the time of the crash.  Photo: MN DPS

From the Minnesota Department of Public Safety • October 16, 2022 

There have been 353 traffic fatalities so far in 2022. It's not just a number. That means 353 people left their home one day and did not make it back to their families or their friends. It represents hundreds of Minnesotans who are left mourning a loved one, a co-worker or a friend.

Traffic safety advocates gathered in St. Cloud this week to share the latest information and ideas to bring that number down to zero. The Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) Conference, which began Wednesday, is offered by the Minnesota state departments of health, public safety and transportation and hosted by the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies.

The goal is in the name. We want zero deaths on Minnesota's roads. We want every single person to safely arrive at their destination.

TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes: 

  • Education: Giving drivers the knowledge they need to avoid dangerous driving practices and choose responsible behavior.

  • Enforcement: Ensuring compliance with traffic laws to change driver behavior and reduce unsafe driving choices.

  • Emergency medical and trauma services: Providing fast, efficient emergency medical and trauma services to reduce fatalities and serious injuries whenever a crash does occur.

  • Engineering: Changing the roadway — with cable median barriers, signage, the roadside, and more — to make travel safer.

The four TZD focus areas, in combination with legislation and car safety design, have saved lives. Since the beginning of the TZD program in 2003, there's been a 25 percent reduction in traffic deaths (655 deaths in 2003 to 488 in 2021).

However, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with a tragic jump in traffic deaths across the state. The 488 lives lost last year is the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007 when there were 510 traffic deaths. Speeding, especially, has been an issue. It was a factor in the deaths of 171 motorists in 2021 (preliminary), the most since 2003 (195).

Minnesotans expect and deserve safety on our roads. Through TZD, we're pursuing actions to turn around what's been happening and spare more families from the grief of a lost loved one.​​

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