Save lives on the road, add patrols

Minnesota police officers need to crack down harder on reckless driving if they want to save lives.

by Keelia Moeller

Traffic deaths in Minnesota are troublingly high this year, and fatalities have already totaled 100 since January. There were 411 deaths in all of 2015. Judging by the 2016 fatality rate, Minnesota is predicted to reach, or even surpass, that number this year.
There were four main causes of fatal accidents last year: drunk driving, failure to wear a seat belt, speeding and distracted driving. 
I urge everyone to think twice the next time they have a drink or two and assure themselves that they’re OK to drive. Don’t go too fast on the roads. Don’t check your cell phone, and always wear a seatbelt. 
Texting and driving is another problematic behavior that we need to take more seriously. Minnesota law enforcement cracked down on citations for texting and driving in a weeklong campaign this year. Officers were looking for drivers whose eyes were off the road regardless of whether their vehicle was moving.
In one week, police issued 972 citations and caught some drivers breaking the same rules multiple times. 
If a weeklong campaign can lead to so many distracted driving citations, I believe this kind of constant monitoring might be the only way to stop traffic deaths.
While some of you might roll your eyes at the thought of even more state patrols looking for people to ticket, I don’t see another way to keep dangerous drivers off the roads.
In addition to enhancing patrols, Minnesota must develop harsher punishments for reckless driving. Endangering other people’s lives to get to your meeting on time, drink an extra beer or send a text message is nothing to joke about. It’s time for Minnesota to get more serious about saving lives.
Keelia Moeller welcomes comments at [email protected].