Column: Significant progress made in traffic safetyAs we enter the New Year, I’m sure everyone has accomplishments and milestones they’ve achieved for which they are proud.
By: Steve Murphy, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
As we enter the New Year, I’m sure everyone has accomplishments and milestones they’ve achieved for which they are proud.
As Minnesotans, we should be collectively pleased with the progress that our state has made in reducing our number of traffic fatalities.
Be it through improved safety measures, more outreach and communication on safe driving behaviors or improvements to our roads and bridges, Minnesota saw a dramatic decline in the number of deaths on our roads.
Even in the midst of a historic snowfall which rocked our state over the heavily traveled Christmas holiday; our state was fortunate to avoid widespread tragedy on our roads. The Minnesota Department of Transportation, as well as counties and cities, should be applauded for their round-the-clock efforts to keep our roads plowed.
In the final days of 2009, Minnesota has 395 traffic fatalities recorded for the year. In 2008, that total was 455, which was the lowest level since 1945.
I think a good portion of this decrease can be attributed to our passage of a primary seat belt law.
It’s a proven fact that wearing a seat belt reduces a person’s risk of serious injury or death in a motor vehicle — so if more people are buckling up, less are going to be killed or injured in an accident.
Due to this new law, Minnesota has reached a 90 percent seat belt compliance rate — up from 87 percent in 2008. This is among the best in the nation.
The primary seat belt law went into effect June 9 and in the first five months on the books, our state saw a 27 percent decline in traffic deaths from the same time period in 2008 (44 as compared to 60).
A number of other important safety measures have been recently enacted, which I also believe have decreased injuries and deaths on our road.
During the 2009 session, Minnesota followed suit of nearly every state and required child passenger restraints for children up to the age of 8. Since adult seat belts do not properly fit or protect children, using a booster seat ensures that these young vehicle passengers are properly restrained.
In 2008, we improved safety for the most vulnerable population of drivers - teenagers.
A graduated driver’s license system was established to provide teenage drivers the time and distraction-free environment they need to learn safe driving skills by limiting driving hours and number of passengers.
Additionally, the transportation investment made by the Minnesota Legislature in 2008 and federal funds received through the ARRA, have allowed many important road-improvement projects to be completed throughout the state.
By keeping our roads maintained and in good condition, we can help decrease accidents and fatalities.
Although we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate goal of zero deaths on Minnesota roads, our state is making great strides in this area.
As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I will continue to work to keep you and your family safe as you drive Minnesota’s roads and highways.
Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, can be reached at (651) 385-7649 or firstname.lastname@example.org.