Why this is important
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people. In addition to the personal toll, crashes have an economic impact on a community due to wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage, and employers’ unemployment insurance costs.
What the data show
Between 2005 and 2013, Dakota County consistently had fewer fatal vehicle crashes per 100,000 population (ranging from 7.3 to 4.4) than the state (ranging from 11 to 6.6 crashes per capita). Both the state and Dakota County’s rates of fatal crashes have declined in the same period.
The trend data show reduction in serious crashes (per 100,000) in Minnesota and Dakota County since 2010, with a slight increase in 2013. The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety reports several factors contributed to the decrease in the state; it appears likely the worsening economy played a role because people drove fewer miles per capita. As the economy improves, people are likely to drive more miles. This might be the reason for the incremental increase in fatal crashes in the state and the County.
According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety’s 2013 Crash Report, Minnesota experienced an increase in traffic fatalities of 7.3% from the previous year. The report also states that about one-third of all crashes involve only one vehicle, one-fourth of those in fatal crashes were less than 25 years of age, and two of three fatalities occurred in rural areas (<5,000 population). In single-vehicle crashes, illegal or unsafe speed was the contributing factor cited most often for drivers of all ages. For older drivers, driver inattention or distraction was the second most-cited factor. More than 6,300 crashes were “hit-and-run.” The economic loss associated with traffic crashes in Minnesota was almost $1.6 billion in 2013.
In multiple-vehicle crashes, for drivers through age 64, driver inattention or distraction is cited most often. Distractions can include tasks such as eating, cell phone use, and radio operation or talking to other people in the vehicle.
The data about vehicles involved in crashes comes from the state Department of Public Safety and includes passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, commercial trucks, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, motorized bicycles, school buses, buses, van pool vehicles, and tax-exempt vehicles. Crashes are those serious enough to cause injury or death; crashes with only property damage were not included in the data shown in this measure.