Ask a Trooper: What does 'Toward Zero Deaths' do?

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol
Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol

Q: I've heard you mention TZD and how law enforcement works with them. Can you explain what TZD is?

A: TZD is an initiative and stands for "Towards Zero Deaths." Minnesota’s TZD program was launched in 2003 by the Minnesota departments of public safety, transportation and health in hopes of reducing traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads.

The name speaks for itself; even one traffic-related death on our roads is unacceptable. The idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 and since then has evolved to several state DOTs, including Minnesota, that have identified zero deaths as a core objective in their strategic highway safety plans.

Minnesota’s TZD program is considered a national model. Leadership has presented in numerous states looking to add similar programs. The TZD leadership team looks at areas for improvement from crash data and of uses in education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma services(the “4Es”).


A combination of strategies from different focus areas is often most effective in an attempt to reduce the number of crashes and save lives. One of my job duties as the northeast regional public information officer, is to provide the public with traffic safety messages.

The Minnesota State Patrol and the other Minnesota law enforcement agencies work with nine TZD regional coordinators across the state to provide education and community outreach. Promoting safe driving behavior such as buckling up, driving at safe speeds, paying attention, and never driving impaired is key to reducing traffic fatalities.

  • Since TZD began in 2003:

  • The number of motor vehicle occupants killed who were unbelted decreased by 63%;

  • The number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes decreased by 52%;

  • The number of people killed in speed-related crashes decreased by 42%;

  • The number of drivers under age 21 killed in speed-related crashes decreased by 63%;

  • The number of drivers killed in distracted-driving-related crashes decreased by 74%.

TZD regional coordinators also work very closely with the roadway engineers from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, county and city officials in an effort to improve our roadways and with the emergency medical and trauma organizations to help reduce life altering injuries and deaths.
You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to or Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811

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