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How warmer weather has increased traffic deaths in Minnesota

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2024 | Car Accidents

Minnesota traffic fatalities are on track to double what they were last year if things continue as they are. With 2024 almost halfway over, 45 people have been killed in collisions throughout the state. That’s compared to 23 at the same point in 2023.

The reason, at least according to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), may surprise a lot of Minnesotans. According to the head of that agency, it’s because the weather here in one of the coldest states in the country has been getting warmer.

That means less ice and snow and more people on the road. Because they don’t have to take care to avoid skidding or because of visibility issues, they tend to drive faster and take more risks than they would during or after a snowstorm.

All you have to do is look at meteorological data to see the connection. For example, this January was the state’s warmest on record, with just 2 inches of snow in Minneapolis-St. Paul. That’s 9 inches below the average for that month. The numbers still aren’t as high as they are during the summer months (especially July through September). However, they’re getting closer than they used to be.

The leading causes of fatal crashes in the state

It’s important to note that winter months still see a lot of fender-benders and other comparatively minor crashes and injuries. However, as the head of the OTS notes, speeding is more likely when the roads are clear, and that’s what leads to many fatalities.

Speeding and alcohol impairment are both top causes of fatal crashes on Minnesota roads (with both responsible for about a third of them). That’s followed by a quarter caused by people not wearing seatbelts.

Of course, impairment by drugs, including marijuana, is also a factor, as is distracted driving. The overall number of fatal crashes caused by impaired drivers is also significantly higher so far this year than last.

Certainly, Minnesotans can’t control how people in other vehicles drive. However, being aware of disturbing trends like the one we’ve discussed here can help people be more vigilant drivers. Holding reckless and negligent drivers accountable for medical bills and other costs and damages after a crash can help you get some amount of justice and fair compensation.