ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota State Patrol is telling drivers to slow down after writing nearly 80 tickets for speeds above 100 miles per hour in just two-and-a-half weeks.
And that warning, they say... is not just a suggestion.
Between March 27 and April 13, troopers issued 78 tickets to drivers exceeding 100 mph. During the same time period in 2019, they wrote just 22. The patrol has said in recent weeks they've noticed a pattern of unsafe and aggressive driving on highways and interstates that are far less crowded due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Minnesota's Stay at Home order.
“Reduced traffic on Minnesota roads does not give drivers a license to speed or drive aggressively,” said State Patrol spokesman Lt. Gordon Shank. “The Minnesota State Patrol is extremely concerned about the excessive speeds we’ve recently seen on our roads. Increased speeds result in a greater risk for serious injury or death in a traffic crashes. Drive smart and let’s make sure hospital beds are available for those dealing with COVID-19.”
Here are some recent documented examples of driving behavior the patrol has witnessed.
- Troopers in southeastern Minnesota stopped five vehicles on April 6 for going more than 30 mph over the speed limit (99/65, 107/65, 108/65, 100/65 and 97/55).
- In southwestern Minnesota, a trooper ticketed a driver for going 114 in a 60 mph zone on Highway 23.
- A trooper in Hennepin County stopped three vehicles April 11 for going more than 90 mph, and one was clocked at 122 mph.
- That same day, another trooper stopped a vehicle near Alexandria for 97 in a 70 mph zone and cited the driver. A different trooper stopped the same driver for doing 91 in a 70 mph zone about 20 minutes later.
- In Thief River Falls a trooper stopped a motorist going 91 in a 60 mph zone on Highway 59.
That type of speed isn't fun and games. Preliminary numbers say 35 people have died on Minnesota roads between March 16 and April 23, an uptick that may be related to the less-congested roads. Ten of those deaths have been tied to speed by investigators, while an additional seven fatalities are blamed on careless or negligent driving.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety officials are reminding all motorists that reduced traffic does not mean fewer distractions on the road. Drivers should focus 100 percent of their attention on the road while behind the wheel, and remember the fact that Minnesota is a hands-free cell phone state.