MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota State Patrol says efforts to crack down on dangerous drivers and street racing are paying off.
The State Patrol on Thursday released its 2023 statistics for its three special enforcement programs: Street racing, Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) and Project (20)23.
In these programs, troopers partnered with law enforcement agencies in an effort to stop drivers from speeding, distracted driving, not wearing a seat belt, impaired driving, and participating in street racing.
The State Patrol started its street racing enforcement efforts in the summer of 2021 and says there has been a reduction in the number of participants and gathering sense.
While racing citations spiked by 327 in 2023 compared to 2022, the overall trend for street racing-related incidents continued to decline, with 355 fewer stops, 212 fewer speed contacts, 100 fewer arrests, and 27 fewer DWI arrests.
Of those stops, the State Patrol said troopers pulled over a vehicle for weaving and found a 14-year-old behind the wheel. The teen and five other minors were headed to a car meet in Brooklyn Center.
In another case, a trooper stopped two vehicles for racing on Interstate 494 after traveling more than 100 mph. Authorities say the drivers were cited for reckless driving and the vehicles were impounded.
In addition to cracking down on street racing, the State Patrol continued its Highway Enforcement for Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) program for the second year.
The HEAT program focuses on speeding enforcement, and in 2023, troopers made 46,806 stops, which is up significantly from the 22,946 stops in 2022. Troopers also issued 11,317 more citations, engaged in 20,377 additional speed contacts, made 14 more arrests, and apprehended two additional DWI offenders compared to 2022.
In this program, troopers work in teams to conduct high-intensity patrols on the weekends. Project 20(23) focuses on potentially deadly traffic violations like speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, distracted driving and impairment.
A comparison between 2022 and 2023 data reveals a decline in driving incidents. Stops were down by 592, citations by 388, speed contacts by 535, arrests by 41, and DWI arrests by 29.
"We do the work that we do because we’re passionate about keeping our roads safe and saving lives," said Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. "The extra enforcement is working. The State Patrol has responded to 25 percent fewer deadly crashes than at this time last year. It shows our commitment to our mission is making a difference."