Traffic deaths increasing
Minnesota traffic deaths are on the path to outstrip last year's numbers, and Goodhue County is no exception.
The number of people who have died on the roads this year surpassed 200 after five were reported this weekend. Last year at this time there had been 175, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and the state didn't hit 200 deaths on the roads until Aug. 21.
Goodhue County has had seven traffic-related deaths reported so far this year, the same number recorded for all of 2012, according to the DPS' Office of Traffic Safety.
"What jumps out is the motorcycle crashes we've had in the county," Chief Deputy Lyle Lorenson of the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office said.
Statewide and locally, motorcycle crashes and deaths have increased this year.
Five of the Goodhue County incidents involved motorcycles or mopeds, and 38 riders have been killed in Minnesota - compared to 24 at this time last year.
"I think it's heightened our awareness of traffic safety and motorcycles in particular," Lorenson said.
The 2013 preliminary count shows 202 deaths on Minnesota roads. At that rate, the DPS is projecting about 450 traffic deaths for 2013, 55 more than the 395 deaths in 2012.
It would be the second year of traffic death increases; in 2011 there were 368, the fewest recorded since 1944.
Lorenson said some crashes, such as with animals, usually can't be avoided.
"But most other crashes to some degree usually there's some type of human error one way or the other," he said. "Those are things we can try to prevent."
Drivers should buckle up, obey speed limits, avoid drinking and driving, put down the cellphones and be aware of their surroundings, officials reminded.
"We should not tolerate this increase in deaths," Lt. Col. Matt Langer of the State Patrol said. "Now is the time for each of us to rededicate ourselves to being safe behind the wheel. The mistakes we make when driving have very real and very violent results."