MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Drivers and passengers on Minnesota roads are dying at an alarming rate. This week the Department of Public Safety reported its 100th traffic death of 2021, which is the earliest we’ve hit that grim milestone in six years.

Mike Hanson, the DPS director of the Office of Traffic Safety, says he’s worried about these statistics since the deadliest time on the road for drivers hasn’t even started yet.

Hanson says speed caused two in five deadly crashes in Minnesota this year.

“Every one of those is preventable and they don’t have to happen,” said Hanson. “Most drivers do drive well, but there is that subset that now has established these bad habits, and those bad habits are going to be very hard to break.”

Hanson believes those bad habits were formed during the pandemic, when fewer people were on the roads. However, Twin Cities traffic has rebounded about by 40% since last April.

“Traffic levels on most of the systems in the state are at pre-pandemic levels,” said Hanson.

In just the first four months of the year, Hanson says law enforcement issued more than 100 speeding tickets for drivers going over 100 mph.

“If we don’t get this back under control, this is going to be a very horrific summer in Minnesota, and many families are going to wind up burying a loved one for no good reason,” said Hanson.

To save lives, the DPS has partnered with 200 other agencies to aggressively pull over and cite speeders now and through the summer, which is the busiest time for road travel.

“I can tell you, based on what I’m hearing from my law enforcement partners out there, if you speed, you can expect to be stopped,” said Hanson.

For what it’s worth, getting caught speeding can be expensive. Drivers typically pay at least $110 for going 10 mph over the limit. Those caught driving 100 mph or more can lose their license for six months.

Marielle Mohs