An uptick in road fatalities and crashes remains a concern of the Aitkin County Toward Zero Deaths Coalition that met March 18.

“Speed is a factor in most crashes,” said Lt. Keith Benz, Minnesota State Trooper who is a member of the coalition. “And we are seeing an increase in speed.”

State road fatalities on March 17 sat at 63 compared to 47 on the same date last year.

Benz said speed is a statewide problem and even though vehicle miles traveled were down 13%, fatalties increased by 9%.

He added that vehicle miles traveled is currently  near previous normal records but fatalities continue to rise.

The State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies are focusing on speed this spring. Coming enforcement campaigns also include distracted driving and seatbelt/child restraints.

TZD Coordinator Amy Dotzler reminded the group of the TZD goal to have no more than 225 fatalities by 2025.

It was recommended that members view the video, Eight Seconds, which is on the TZD website.

The regional TZD workshop is set for May 26 virtually. The statewide conference is to be held in person Oct. 13-14 in Rochester.

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