Traffic Safety Initiatives

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Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) and Olmsted County Safe Communities

SE Minnesota led the state in developing a regional TZD (Toward Zero Deaths) Initiative.  This effort combined the 4 E’s of traffic safety: Education, Enforcement, Engineering and Emergency Medical Services.  Today, it continues to rely on the expertise of law enforcement, public health, emergency medical services, and engineers to analyze each traffic fatality, provide effective and consistent education to our community, coordinate prevention efforts at the most high risk times, and check our progress in changing the traffic death numbers for SE Minnesota.  In Olmsted County this includes the Sheriff’s Office, Rochester City Police, Olmsted County Public Health, city and county engineers, school representatives, driver’s education professionals, and concerned citizens.  Representatives from every county in SE Minnesota work proactively to prevent further death and disability from traffic crashes.

Olmsted County has also promoted a Safe Communities Coalition for the past six years that works closely with community partners to raise awareness about local traffic safety concerns.  This coalition regularly conducts news conferences, often with crash victim survivors, to give voices to those who have lost their lives due to a tragic traffic crash.  Law enforcement flyers have been create and distributed that highlight community members who can tell their story about the dangers of driving too fast or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Successful partnerships among school representatives have conducted mock crashes for their young students to “drive” home the importance of wearing seat belts, avoiding alcohol and drugs, not speeding, turning off the cell phone or iPods, and eliminating all other distractions while driving.  To learn more about traffic safety initiatives, or to become a part of our coalition, contact Karen Schaar at 507-328-7445 or email:

Over the years, the number of traffic deaths in MN has been steadily declining.  It has taken a culture change.  This means zero tolerance for drunk driving, understanding between disciplines of how to coordinate efforts to reduce crashes, commitment by the public to do what it takes to drive safely.  We no longer think it would be a good thing if people would drive more safely, we consider it essential to the health and safety of our friends, neighbors, and fellow travelers.