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Crash Numbers Released During Toward Zero Deaths Workshop

Updated: 05/29/2014 3:30 PM
Created: 05/29/2014 2:47 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Summer doesn't just mean warmer weather; the summer months are the deadliest on Minnesota roads.

"People drive too fast," Holly Kostrzewski, Regional Coordinator for Toward Zero Deaths, said. "They're probably distracted and sometimes they forget to buckle up."

About 125 people showed up at Spirit Mountain Thursday for the Fourth Annual Toward Zero Deaths Workshop. People working in enforcement, engineering, EMS/trauma and education were there to collaborate on ways to reach their goal of no traffic deaths.

"That's the goal," Lt. Jason Hanson said. "It's a lofty goal, but it's the only one that is acceptable."

Crash statistics from last year were released Thursday. Officials said not much has changed, but that's a positive. In 2009, Minnesota saw 421 traffic fatalities and in 2013 that number is down to 388.

"The numbers aren't rising which is good," Hanson said. "We don't want them to go up."

Fatal and serious injury crashes dropped five percent over the last few years. St. Louis County saw 19 fatalities in 2013 and Koochiching County saw zero.

"It's hard to explain what we see to people," Randy Strohmeyer, with Gold Cross Ambulance, said. "What we try to provide them with is numbers and facts and hopefully that will change their behavior."

In the last decade, officials said the Toward Zero Deaths Initiative has made a difference.

"We've cut fatalities almost in half which is unbelievable," Hanson said.

Kostrzewski said St. Louis County is the deadliest in the Northland for alcohol-related fatalities. She said fatal crashes involving men often include alcohol or speed. She said women are more likely to drive while distracted.

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