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Editorial: Highway deaths are up in county

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opinion Willmar,Minnesota 56201
West Central Tribune
Editorial: Highway deaths are up in county
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

A tragic accident Thursday at the intersection of U.S. Highway 71 and State Highway 9 west of New London took the lives of a Madison couple and injured a Hector semi driver.


Our sympathies go to the families of all involved.

The Highway 71/9 accident fatalities Thursday were not the only tragedy that made headlines this year.

There was the Aug. 17 accident on U.S. Highway 12 where a Cokato man vehicle’s struck another vehicle killing a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter.

Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog noted Thursday the fact that nine people had been killed in accidents this year in Kandiyohi County. That is up from six in 2011 and only two in 2010.

Hartog said he is personally frustrated with the rise in fatalities in the county, especially since the Sheriff ’s Office staff works hard on traffic patrols and driver education on traffic safety and awareness.

The Highway 71/9 intersection is also raising concerns. After five years of no fatalities, three deaths and two injury accidents have occurred at the site in the past year.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has already taken some safety steps at the intersection: installing streets lights several years ago and installing temporary flashing beacons on the Highway 9 stop signs just two weeks ago.

A MnDOT spokeman said Thursday that permanent larger flashers would be installed in the spring.

There is no easy answer to this spike in accidents and fatalities in Kandiyohi County. The first step is for drivers to drive defensively at all times. The second is not to drink and drive, it’s not worth the risk.

Most importantly, we can all slow down, look ahead, be prepared and know where we are.

Drive safely this weekend and on New Year’s Eve.