Ask A Trooper

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

With highs near 50 and the sun in the sky, it can be hard to believe it is March in Minnesota. If you’re not a fan of Minnesota winters, the higher temps and lack of snow this winter is appealing. You might even think that the lack of snow has made our roads safer.

  Unfortunately, the effect on traffic safety is not always what people think. We’re seeing an alarming spike in traffic fatalities so far this year. The nicer weather and drier roads have led to some dangerous driving behaviors, according to our Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).

“Because we’ve had such a lightweight winter, so to speak, we’re seeing those summertime driving patterns continue,” OTS Director Mike Hanson said. “And that means higher speed. And that means more energy in a collision. And that’s resulting in more deaths on our roads.”

  Traffic fatalities are significantly higher than last year at this time. As of March 15, preliminary numbers show 62 traffic fatalities this year compared to 39 at this time last year.

  Each of those deaths represent families who will never see their loved ones again, like the parents of an 8-year-old boy who was killed after the vehicle he was in was t-boned in Sherburne County earlier this winter.

  In the warmer months, we typically see a higher number of traffic deaths due to factors such as clear roads, sunny skies and people feeling more inclined to speed. In the colder months, we typically see more traffic crashes, but they’re not as severe because road conditions are less ideal, and people are slowing down. 

  There are four main factors that increase the risk for fatalities: speed, impaired driving, distracted driving and driving without a seat belt. 

  “We need to really pay attention to that speed. That is the one factor that makes every other mistake or bad decision worse,” Hanson said. “It takes away time and it takes away distance you would have otherwise had to   react. You can’t prevent a crash when you’re going too fast.”

  Going back to 2018 and looking at the latest breakdown of stats through March 3, this year is the highest number of traffic fatalities that we’ve experienced on Minnesota roads. Fifty-five people lost their lives in traffic crashes through March 3 this year. The next highest was 49 fatalities in 2021 at this time.

  No matter what the season and conditions, Minnesotans can help keep everyone safe on the road by making the right choices and driving smart:

• Buckle up.

• Watch your speed and drive to conditions.

• Always plan a safe and sober ride if you’re relaxing with alcohol or cannabis products. Driving high is a DWI.

• Pay attention behind the wheel. Put the phone away or go hands-free, it’s the law. Minimize other distractions.

  A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.  (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at,