Ask a trooper: Minnesota is one of the safest states to drive inSend your question E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your question to Duluth News Tribune, Attn: Ask the State Trooper, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you choose.
Q: How does Minnesota compare to the rest of the country when it comes to traffic accidents on the roads?
A: With this being my final article, I thought I would use this question to give readers a snapshot of where Minnesota drivers are with safety on the roads.The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks Minnesota as one of the safest states to drive in when you look at fatal and serious personal injury crashes as it relates to the number of miles being driven in our state. In 2010, Minnesota’s traffic fatality reached a 60-year low, and 2011 appears to be on pace to shatter those numbers. There are many reasons this has been happening, and I would like to touch on a few.
Several traffic safety laws have played an important role in this. The primary seat-belt law has record numbers of people buckling up, including our young drivers. Booster-seat requirements have improved safety and awareness to ensure our children are protected. Graduated driver’s licensing and our driver education instructors play a key role in teaching teen drivers about roadway safety and decision making (more parental involvement still is needed).
You may have heard or read about the “Four E’s” of traffic safety — engineering, enforcement, education and emergency services. All of these components are essential in working together to make us safer on the roads.
The engineering designs of the roads and the safety
features are some of the best in the nation. The new flashing yellow arrows, roundabouts and the “J” turns are new designs that we are all challenged with. Be patient and educate yourself about them as they all will provide safer driving and fewer
The media plays an important educational and informational role in getting messages out. The Northland has been fortunate to have the relationship the media provides to law enforcement, whether it would be articles such as these, safety public service announcements or the weekly KQDS radio program Red Rock radio has supported for many years.
The emergency services have and will continue to improve. Air medical services provided by Life Link III helicopter, ground transportation by Gold Cross Ambulance and our hospitals have saved many lives. The nurses, medics, and doctors are very good at what they do and deserve our thanks and appreciation.
Enforcement is the final “E” that people don’t appreciate so much because it hits their pocketbook or affects their driving privileges. If safety isn’t enough, there has to be the fear of getting caught and consequences for your actions. The purpose is to change driver behavior when it is poor.
I thank the Duluth News Tribune for giving the Minnesota State Patrol the opportunity to get its message out and the readers for their
comments over the years — both good and bad. Minnesotans should feel good about safety on their roads, but we still have plenty of room for improvement. Have a Happy New Year!
This is Sgt. Mark Baker’s last Ask the Trooper column for the News Tribune, as he is retiring from the Minnesota State Patrol. We thank him for the knowledge he has shared with us over the years. Continue to send in your “Ask the Trooper” questions, because we plan to continue this column.