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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ranks Minnesota as one of the safest states to drive in when looking at fatal and serious personal injury crashes as it relates to the number of miles driven within the state.

Minnesota’s traffic deaths reached a 60-year low in 2010. And, 2011 poised to beat those numbers. Numerous traffic safety laws have played a role in the decline says Sgt. Mark Baker’s from the Minnesota State Patrol.

A record number of people are buckling up due to the primary seat-belt law and the best part is that also includes our teen drivers. Booster-seat requirements helped to improve awareness and safety. While graduated driver’s licensing and driver education instructors played a main role in teaching young drivers the importance of roadway safety and decision making. It goes without saying that it needs to be taken a step further – parents need to be involved and also speak with their kids about these safe driving. Take a moment to read a recent article in the Winter Issue of The Safety Report titled, “How I Got My Son to Sign a Driving Contract.”

The “Four E’s” of traffic safety – engineering, enforcement, education and emergency services. Each of these is a working component in making Minnesota roads safer. Sgt. Baker reminds us of one of the most important of the “four E’s” – enforcement – safety in of itself is not enough. There needs to be a fear of getting caught and there must be a fear of consequences with the purpose being to change poor driver behavior.

New flashing yellow arrows, roundabouts and “J” turns are new engineering designs that were all met with challenges but are some of the best safety features in the nation. They provide safer driving and fewer serious crashes.

The media also plays a vital part in getting out educational and informational messages, says Sgt. Baker. From articles such as this, to safety public service announcements, these relationships with law enforcement work together to meet common goals – safer roads, fewer crashes and less deaths.

And there you have it – several traffic safety laws working together to educate as well as keep roads safer. Are you going to do your part in 2012? Drivers need to take time to educate themselves as well as practicing patience on the road. Visit Minnesotans for Safe Driving to find out more about Minnesota Crash Statistics by County and Comparison by Year.

As an aside, this was Sgt. Baker's last column for the News Tribune. We wish him well in his retirement!

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