It’s the season of championships, awards and recognition. As I write, our Minnesota Timberwolves have fallen short of their NBA championship hopes and the Professional Women Hockey League Minnesota team just won the first-ever PWHL Walter Cup Championship. We’re watching our young ones compete in spring sports tourneys and earn end-of-school recognition. By late July we’ll be glued to our screens as Olympic records are broken and gold medals distributed in Paris.

But there’s one recognition none of us wants – one for increased traffic-related deaths.

Across the U.S. and here in Minnesota, traffic safety professionals, employers and countless others have dedicated decades to making drivers, roadways and vehicles safer with great results. More than five decades ago in 1972, national crash deaths reached a peak of 56,278 – that’s an annual rate of 4.6 deaths per 10,000 vehicles on the road. By 2014, changes to traffic safety laws, safer vehicles, enforcement and education had brought that number down to 35,398 or an annual death rate of 1.36 per10,000 vehicles.

Since the pandemic we’ve seen a companion epidemic of increased crashes – many attributed to excessive speed and impairment. We’ve watched those numbers creep up. Here in Minnesota, through June 2, 2024, we’ve recorded 153 traffic-related fatalities on our roadways, up 35% from this time last year.

But history shows we CAN make a difference. With Memorial Day behind us, we’re now officially in the period known as the 100 Most Dangerous Days on our roads. It’s a great time to remind your team, your family and friends with our 2024 Do It for ME/THEM videos and educational materials and 2023 campaign tools, along with last year’s Impaired is Impaired resources.

Be a winner this summer. Help us double-down and win the traffic safety challenge,  There’s no victory better than savings lives.

Yours in traffic safety,

Lisa Kons

Minnesota NETS Coordinator