The Minnesota State Patrol launched a high-intensity patrol over fishing opener weekend in the Brainerd Lakes area, and troopers throughout the summer will target a region each weekend to crack down on deadly driving behaviors.
The initiative, dubbed Project 20(22), focuses on pulling over motorists for speeding, not wearing seat belts and driving distracted or while impaired, according to a news release. Enforcement will span five weekends through mid-September. Two of those weekends will focus on the Twin Cities, which is already seeing increased enforcement with the patrol and BCA to assist Minneapolis police as it reels from an officer shortage and rising crime that comes with warmer weather.
"This project allows our troopers to have a visible presence and protect motorists during busy times on our roads," said Col. Matt Langer in the release. "Our message remains simple: Buckle up, drive the speed limit, plan a sober ride and never drive impaired, and always pay attention."
On fishing opener weekend, a team of troopers stopped nearly 900 vehicles between Little Falls and Walker on Hwys. 371 and 169. About 600 drivers were speeding, including a 16-year-old cited for going 102 mph in a 65 zone. Troopers made 14 drunken-driving arrests.
Project 20(22), which was first created in 1979 as "Project 20" and later rebranded as the statewide Toward Zero Deaths initiative, will focus on the Twin Cities the last weekend in June and second weekend of July. Troopers will then focus on Interstate 35 between Pine City and Duluth the first weekend of August. The last weekend of extra enforcement falls Sept. 16 between Moorhead and Rogers on Interstate 94.
The State Patrol said that in 2021, 488 people died on Minnesota roads — the deadliest year since 2007 when the state recorded 510 traffic deaths. So far this year, fewer motorist have lost their lives compared with any recent years. As of May 8, there were 95 traffic-related deaths, according to the patrol.