AAA Minnesota/Iowa Warns Minnesota Heading for Another Year of Unreasonably High Roadway Fatalities

Guest editorial by Jeff Ogden, AAA Minnesota/Iowa

BURNSVILLE, Minn., April 29 /PRNewswire/ — Guest editorial by Jeff Ogden, AAA Minnesota/Iowa:

Regrettably, Minnesota is 20 percent ahead of last year’s roadway fatalities. At this time last year, there were 121 fatalities; this year we already have reached 145. If this trend continues, we will have 680 roadway fatalities, compared to 567 last year. This total will be the highest since 1981.

While many may attribute this to increased number of drivers, vehicles on the road and number of miles driven, other states with the similar situations are not seeing the same increased roadway fatality results. For example, Iowa has more drivers, vehicles and miles driven than ever before, yet they had their lowest fatality total last year — 380 deaths — than they have had since 1945.

So, what are the major differences between the two states? I contend that the major differences are in legislated traffic laws.

Iowa passed and enacted the .08 Blood Alcohol Content law years before Minnesota did (in fact ours does not even take effect until next year). Iowa passed and enacted stronger Graduated Driving Laws than Minnesota has enacted, including nighttime restrictions for provisional drivers. Iowa passed and enacted stronger Child Passenger Safety laws than Minnesota. Iowa passed and enacted Primary Enforcement of the seat belt law, which Minnesota has yet to do.

Passing and enacting these laws would cost little, if any, money. Some Minnesota legislators that I talk to contend their constituents are more interested in less government regulation than increasing roadway safety and reducing roadway fatalities. If so, it is disappointing because, not only are more deaths related to weak traffic safety legislation occurring, but we are also increasing health care costs and premiums as a result.

If you believe Minnesota should enhance its roadway safety legislation, please contact your local legislator as soon as possible and encourage them to pass and enact stronger traffic safety laws before they adjourn at the end of May. To confirm your local legislators, log onto http://geo.commissions.leg.state.mn.us/districts/start.html , or call the House Information toll-free at 1-800-657-3550 or Senate Information at 1-888- 234-1112.

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