As the Minnesota fishing opener approaches, the Minnesota State Patrol joins the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in encouraging anglers to fish close to home.

By staying close to home, anglers can help limit the spread of COVID-19, and decrease the potential for added strain on local communities and health care systems.

Drive Smart: Increased Enforcement on Minnesota Roads

  • The Minnesota State Patrol is increasing traffic enforcement this weekend along interstates and highways leading to popular fishing areas.
  • Along with the DNR, the State Patrol is asking motorists to not carpool or share a boat with people other than those in your immediate household. Drivers should also make every attempt to travel without making stops along the way.
  • As troopers continue to keep people safe on Minnesota roads, the State Patrol is encouraging the public to follow the governor’s executive order.

Drive Smart: Line Up a Sober Ride

  • It’s not unusual for anglers to have a few drinks while out on the water or dock. It’s also not unusual for anglers to lose track of how many drinks they consume over several hours.
  • During the 2019 fishing opener (Friday 6 p.m.–Monday 6 a.m.), law enforcement made 330 DWI arrests.
  • Whether you’re planning to consume one or several alcoholic drinks on the lake, always plan on having a designated driver. Failing to drive smart, even just one time, can lead to a lifetime of regret.

Declining DWIs During Stay at Home Order

  • One positive from the governor’s stay at home order was the initial drop in DWI arrests. Sadly, those numbers have steadily increased each weekend.
  •  DWIs by weekend (Friday 6 p.m. – Monday 6 a.m.):

o   May 1-4: 164

o   April 24-27: 143

o   April 17-20: 133

o   April 10-13: 118

o   April 3-6: 109

o   March 29-April 1: 94

o   March 20-23: 126

  • Average DWI weekend before the stay at home order: 265

Fatal Crashes Remain a Cause for Concern

  • During the 2019 fishing opener weekend, six people were killed on Minnesota roads and 21 people were seriously injured.

Fishing Opener Weekend (Friday-Monday) 2015-2019

Fishing Opener Fatalities Serious Injuries Unbelted Fatalities Speed-Related Crashes Alcohol-Related Crashes Distracted-Related Crashes
2015 6 18 1 46 47 227
2016 3 29 0 65 48 113
2017 5 36 0 55 72 118
2018 1 13 0 36 57 81
2019* 6 21 2 30 56 79
Total 21 117 3 252 280 618

**2019 data is preliminary

  • While traffic volumes have been down over the past several weeks, fatal crashes are up from previous years.
  • Reduced traffic on Minnesota roads due to the stay at home order doesn’t mean reduced distractions and doesn’t give drivers a license to speed on the open road.
Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety
  • The last reported fatality on Minnesota roads was on May 4.
  • To date there have been 93 fatalities on Minnesota roads compared with 92 at this time last year.
  • Troopers issued 78 citations between March 27 and April 13 for speeds of 100-plus mph. They issued 22 tickets during that same time period last year.
·         Fatal crashes March 16-May 4
o   2020: 41 (45 deaths)
o   2019: 33 (35 deaths)
o   2018: 38 (41 deaths)
o   2017: 35 (36 deaths)
o   2016: 42 (44 deaths)
o   2015: 50 (53 deaths)

Secure Your Load

  • Whether it’s towing a boat or hauling fishing gear in the back of your vehicle, securing your load can be a difference between life and death on the road.
  • At 55 miles per hour, an object weighing just 20 pounds that falls from a vehicle strikes with an impact of half a ton, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Remember, securing your load is not only the law but you can help protect your fellow anglers on the road.