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Speeding behind jump in 2018 traffic fatalities, state officials say

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Radar readout on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.
Radar readout on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul reminds drivers to slow down from a 40 mph zone to a 30 mph zone.
Dan Olson | MPR News 2007

Public safety officials say 2018 saw a sharp increase in traffic fatalities across Minnesota where speed was a major factor. 

Preliminary figures show that 381 people died in traffic crashes last year. About one-third, or 113, of those fatalities involved someone driving too fast.

Mike Hanson, director of the state's Office of Traffic Safety, said 2018 was the first time in a decade that the number of speed-related deaths on Minnesota roads topped 100.

"Speed can kill you at 30 mph just as it can kill you at 90 mph. It depends on the circumstances of the crash, whether an occupant is belted or not, as well as a number of other factors," Hanson said.

The state will help pay for overtime at hundreds of law enforcement agencies across Minnesota as part of a monthlong speed enforcement campaign that begins Tuesday. Hanson said the effort will last longer than in previous years.

Speed also is largely behind single motorcycle crashes. In 2019, 11 motorcyclists have died, compared with 14 at this time last year. Most of the riders who died this year were not wearing a helmet.