2020 reaches Minnesota’s 2019 traffic death toll with one month to go

With one month to go in 2020, there have already been as many traffic deaths on Minnesota roads as there were all of last year, according to preliminary data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

As of the start of December, 364 people have died on Minnesota roads this year. That amount was the entire death toll for 2019. According to a 10-year average about 30 people die on Minnesota roads in December, which means 2020 will likely be a deadlier year on the roads than 2019.

Of the 364 deaths this year, 107 were speed-related, marking a large jump from the 68 speed-related deaths this time last year. This year's total also includes 63 motorcyclists, an increase from 44 compared to the same period last year. Also, 72 percent of the traffic deaths this year were male.

In a press release, Director of Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Mike Hanson suggested the pandemic may have played a role in the increased traffic deaths.

"With fewer vehicles on the road during the 2020 pandemic, the loss of life on Minnesota roads is beyond disappointing; it is tragic and completely preventable," said Hanson. "While most Minnesotans are driving smart, there are a number of people who have used the lighter traffic as a license to disobey laws."

There will be extra DWI enforcement on weekends and holidays through the end of the December. Law enforcement statewide made 267 DWI arrests during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.