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TZD program puts focus on road safety

FAIRMONT — With snowstorms and slippery roads comes an increased awareness of road safety. Law enforcement and emergency crews remind us to slow down or even to forego traveling altogether in order to save lives.

But winter driving is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to road safety.

To that end, Martin County will once again be involved in the state’s Toward Zero Deaths program. Officer Colin Hagert of the Fairmont Police Department is heading up the effort, with the help of several others.

“I’m the grantee lead, but I’m by no means the only one participating in this,” he said. “We’re getting a number officers and a number of different agencies to come together to get these serious injury and fatality related crashes to zero, especially in our community.

“We haven’t been incorporated into it for a couple of years,” he continued. “But now it’s been decided that we’re getting back into it and we’re going to hit the road even heavier now.

“There’s nothing really that’s changed within the program itself, we’re still looking after the DWI waves, seat belts, distracted driving and things like that.”

Hagert offered some background information on the program, discussing how it became a major effort in the state.

“Minnesota became a part of TZD in 2003,” he said. “Since then it’s become the cornerstone traffic safety program within the state and what it does is create a culture for which traffic-related fatalities and serious injury crashes go down to zero. So if you’re looking at it from a statistical standpoint, even one serious injury crash or fatality related crash on our Minnesota roadways is unacceptable.”

Hagert noted that the program has benefited people, statewide and locally.

“Since the implementation of TZD, the state has shown a 42 percent reduction in these fatalities,” he said. “Based on some statistical data that I was reading over for our area, from 2013 to 2017 Martin County itself displayed a total of 59 serious injury or fatality-related crashes. Of those 59, 12 were related to speed, 9 were related to distracted driving, 14 were related to individuals not wearing their seat belts, and then 17 were directly related to alcohol.

“It’s an extremely important program within the community, and in this county especially.”

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