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The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota has released a report that more people die each year in rural roadway accidents than in urban settings. Looking at the number of collisions that our office has, it seems clear that many of these deaths are due to the classic reasons:

  • Speed
  • Drinking
  • No Seat belts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 56 percent of the 37,261 traffic deaths in the United States last year occurred on rural roads, though only about 23 percent of the population lives in rural areas. The University also looked into what could be done to reduce these deaths. The suggestions they came up with were:

    • Examine more rural roadway crash factors and combinations of factors for additional clarification.

    • Improve the metrics used to describe or define rural roadways in the United States.

    • Use the primary characteristics of rural roadway crashes as the basis for safety improvement measures and programs implemented in rural areas.

    • Include measures and strategies that improve driver decision-making as one of the focus or emphasis areas of a comprehensive safety program.

    • Fund projects that continue to help upgrade and apply GIS tools to plot and evaluate safety data with respect to driver behavior and roadway conditions.

    • Scientifically evaluate the impacts of the safety improvement programs described in this report.

With any death in a Minnesota motor vehicle collision, there are many issues that will need to be reviewed. My partner, Joe Crumley, addressed this topic in a recent article for the Minnesota Lawyers Trial magazine. I was interviewed last year on the same topic. Hopefully, the study and the resulting suggested changes the future numbers for these deaths will go down.

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