Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn says deputies from his department as well as officers from Faribault, Northfield, Lonsdale and Dundas will be working additional shifts through June 14 focusing on distracted driving.

It's all part of the latest Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) wave.  Sheriff Dunn says, "Distracted driving is a key factor in causes of motor vehicle crashes.  This includes using your mobile device, eating and drinking, putting your makeup on, talking to other passengers in your vehicle and even looking out over the lakes."

The Sheriff points out traffic volumes are down compared to last year but motor vehicle fatality numbers are "almost identical."

Dunn says, "Make your priority avoiding distractions when you're operating your motor vehicle.  Please do your part to keep our roadways safe this summer."

To date according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety there have been 123 deaths on Minnesota's roads.  Last year there were 116 at this time.

The TZD Mnnesota goal is 300 in 2020 following 381 total deaths in 2018 and a preliminary number of 364 in 2019.

National statistics indicate a person dies every 16 minutes in the United States.

Rice County is part of the Southeastern Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths coalition which is comprised of 11 counties.  In addition to Rice, Goodhue, Steele, Dodge, Wabasha, Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, Fillmore, Winona and Houston.

The leading cause of road deaths in the Southeast District are :

  • Lack of Seatbelt use
  • Speed and Aggressive driving
  • Alcohol

The leading type of crash resulting in deaths and severe injuries is:

  • Run-off the road
  • Intersection related