White-knuckle winter driving may be a distant memory for Minnesotans in July, but the dangers of speeding should be top-of-mind during the 100 deadliest days of summer.

A statewide extra speed enforcement and awareness campaign, which is in effect now through July 23, will remind Minnesotans to slow down and drive safely.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the campaign with more than 300 law enforcement agencies (police, sheriff and state patrol) stepping up enforcement efforts through overtime funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Ad-ministration (NHTSA).

“Sunny summer skies and clear roads tempt drivers to drive more aggressively and push down on the accelerator a little harder. That’s a dangerous choice,” said Donna Berger, OTS director. “When speeds go up, so does the likelihood of fatal crashes and serious injuries. Add in motorists who are drunk, distracted or unbelted, and the summer months become the 100 deadliest days on Minnesota roads. Drive Minnesota nice, and choose to obey the speed limit.”

While getting a ticket may be a primary concern when exceeding the speed limit, drivers should worry about far more dangerous consequences. Preliminary numbers show speed-related fatalities in 2016 (92 deaths) increased by 18 percent last year compared with 2015 (78 deaths).

During the 100 deadliest days in the past five years (2012-16), preliminary numbers show that 109 people lost their lives in speed-related crashes. Speed contributes to an average of 83 deaths each year (preliminary).

In single-vehicle crashes in 2015, illegal or unsafe speed was the most common contributing factor. Higher speeds mean bigger problems, such as:

• Greater potential for loss of vehicle control.

• Increased distance needed for stopping.

• Less time for driver response for crash avoidance.

• Increased crash severity leading to more severe injuries and death.

Cost of a speeding violation will vary by county, but it will typically cost a driver more than $110 with court fees for traveling 10 miles per hour over the limit. Fines double for those traveling 20 miles per hour over the limit, and fines for speeding in a work zone are more than $300.

A driver can lose their license for six months for going 100 miles per hour or more.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management.

DPS activity is anchored by the core principles of education, enforcement and prevention. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads.

For the third year in a row, seat belt citations decreased during the summer Click It or Ticket campaign. During the two-week extra enforcement wave, officers, deputies and troopers reported 6,771 seat belt citations and 184 child seat violations. Law enforcement statewide issued 1,017 citations to drivers for texting while driving and 1,517 seat belt violations.

Photo courtesy of Internet public domain