Traffic deaths in Minnesota Spike Despite Low Traffic Volume

Traffic deaths in Minnesota are spiking, despite record-low vehicle traffic volume.

Traffic deaths in Minnesota are spiking, despite record-low vehicle traffic volume. According to Mike Hanson, the director of the Office of Traffic Safety, ever since Gov. Tim Walz issued his stay-at-home order, traffic deaths have increased by about 50%, even while traffic is down roughly 50%. 

Hanson sums this up to drivers thinking that police officers aren’t out enforcing laws. “The two things that we’re seeing out there are aggressive, careless driving and speeds and in many cases, really excessive speeds,” Hanson said.

Yet this trend appears to be unique to Minnesota. Other states are seeing a significant decline in their road-fatalities due to less persons on the road—which makes sense. Generally speaking, recessions actually lead to lower deaths, as traffic fatalities decrease, along with ailments linked to work-related stresses such as heart attacks. 

What’s the explanation for the difference in Minnesota? It’s too early to tell, but it may be the orders that Governor Walz and other local authorities have given to our law enforcement officials. 

According to several local law enforcement sources, who wish to remain anonymous, Minnesota police have switched to being totally “reactive only”—anti-drug and detective operations are on hold, unless a child’s welfare is known to be at immediate risk. No doubt that bad actors are aware of this fact.

Across the nation, especially in liberal states, police forces have been told to not arrest for “low-level” crimes, including burglary. In New York and California, child predators have been released, along with other violent offenders.

There is a legitimate question how much Minnesota is emulating these policies, and whether there are less police officers patrolling the roads as a result. Did Governor Walz and other local leaders order less-stringent policing in Minnesota? Are less troopers on the road patrolling, and who ordered this to occur?


Willis Krumholz

Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.