DPS: Warm spring pushes up traffic deathsby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — State officials suspect Minnesota's unseasonably mild winter has been a big factor in a spike in traffic deaths.
So far this year, 66 people have died on Minnesota roadways — that's up from 47 for the same period in 2011.
"It's pretty clear that the weak winter and the clear roads are likely causing motorists to drive at faster, unsafe speeds, which, of course, results in more violent crashes," said Nathan Bowie, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "We've also seen evidence of poor belt use in many of the fatalities."
Bowie said pedestrians accounted for seven of the roadway deaths. That's up from four for the same period a year ago.
He also said the state had its first motorcyclist death of the year last week. Bowie said the earliest motorcyclist death since 1991 was in 2002, on Feb. 23.
"It is important motorists, with the warm weather, are aware that motorcyclists will be on the road and they need to look twice for riders," Bowie said.