Ask A Trooper

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Question: I just saw something about a Minnesota traffic safety program that’s been around for 20 years. Can you talk more about that?

  Answer: Yes, here is some information we shared on our DPS blog: “Minnesota has seen a 32 percent reduction in traffic fatalities between 2003 and 2022, in part due to the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program.

  The Department of Public Safety joined traffic safety partners across Minnesota to mark 20 years of saving lives through the TZD program this week with a conference in Rochester aimed at keeping us all safe, whether you’re a driver, passenger or pedestrian. In the two decades the program has existed in Minnesota, our model has gained national recognition and our roads have been considered some of the safest in the nation.

  Neveah Ripka, Jose Antonio Diaz Barranco, Diana Leigh Farm-Franks: Those are just three of the 343 people who lost their lives on Minnesota roads in 2023 as of Tuesday.

  “Traffic statistics aren’t just numbers. Each one represents a lost life that devastates the world of that person’s family and friends,” Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Director Mike Hanson said. “The Toward Zero Deaths program has saved — and will continue to save — lives.”

  Minnesotans made significant progress over the years to reduce traffic fatalities, but the challenge now is to regain momentum in saving lives. Over the last 10 years, we haven’t seen the consistent, significant reduction in traffic deaths compared to the first decade of the TZD program. The past three years have seen new challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic that led to less traffic and more speeding.

  “These challenges are re-energizing us to find new ways to continue the progress of the past two decades,” Hanson said. “Minnesotans expect and deserve safety on our roads.”

  The Minnesota legislature approved state funding this year to create the Advisory Council on Traffic Safety. The council is bringing together additional stakeholders and communities, and it’s opening up state funding opportunities that didn’t exist before. It’ll give us more flexibility in local education and outreach and a formal way to tell lawmakers what needs to change to improve traffic safety.

  We have stepped up traffic safety enforcement with projects such as Project 20(23) and Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) patrols with the Minnesota State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities area and statewide.

  The Minnesota departments of health, public safety and transportation, along with traffic safety partners statewide, are working to create a culture of traffic safety in our communities. But we can’t do it without your help. Staying safe on our roads is as simple as driving the speed limit, never driving impaired and always paying attention.”