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Joint enforcement operation a success

WORTHINGTON -- Troopers from both Minnesota and South Dakota joined forces last week for a high-visibility enforcement operation along I-90, from Mitchell, S.D. to Worthington, aimed at criminal interdiction and reducing crashes.

From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., the Minnesota State Patrol and South Dakota State Patrol worked the corridor, enforcing all traffic and highway laws with emphasis on seatbelt use, speeding and drinking and driving.

The operation included troopers generally assigned to the area, as well as additional personnel such as K-9 units and the Motor Carrier Division.

A total of 343 vehicles were stopped, and 153 arrests made. More than 400 motorists were given warnings, and 13 arrests were made for drug possession. One of those drug arrests involved 295 pound of marijuana, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

There were 62 arrests for speeding and 152 warnings; two arrests for the Move-Over law and four warnings; 32 arrests for seatbelt violation and 12 warnings; 18 arrests for driver's license, insurance or registration violations and 54 warnings; 11 arrests for other moving violations and 15 for non-moving violations.

In South Dakota, the I-90 enforcement was part of the "100 Days of Heat" campaign, a summer-long highway safety initiative that involves the Highway Patrol, state Office of Highway Safety and law enforcement agencies across South Dakota.

About half of South Dakota's traffic fatalities occur during the summer. Each year, the holidays with the most car accidents are Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day - a span of time that covers nearly 100 days.

Promoting safe driving is a component of Minnesota's core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes -- education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

"Sadly, 368 lives were lost on Minnesota roads in 2011. We're teaming up on this joint enforcement, so families and communities do not have to go through the pain of a preventable tragedy," said Capt. Brian West of the Minnesota State Patrol. "Stopping speeding, impaired, distracted and unbelted drivers are preventative measures to ensure safety on Minnesota and South Dakota roads."

In Minnesota, at least four people were killed on Minnesota roads due to crashes on Memorial Day weekend. Three of those deaths were the result of crashes in southwest Minnesota. Another man died on I-90 over the weekend, and the number of Minnesota traffic deaths to date is slightly higher than it was last year at this time. Eighty percent of the unbelted deaths on Minnesota roads take place in Great Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.