Minnesota is suffering a deadly year on our roads. Traffic deaths this week topped the 200-death mark for the year and we are on pace for around 450 deaths for 2013, which would be 55 more than 2012.

It may be easy to glance over these numbers and see them as figures and data. But we all know there's much more behind them that that.

These numbers stand for Sherwin Johnson, 73, who was killed on his motorcycle July 29.

These numbers include Krista Suronen, 42, killed on July 27.

And these numbers represent Naw Wah, 48, and La Yin, 48, who also died in a crash on July 27.

Our hearts go out to these victims and their families. These are just a few of the 18 people we lost on the road in the past two weeks. Sadly, there are another 200-plus names that we could add to the list of 2013 traffic crash victims.

We can't forget the lives lost. As drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, it's up to each of us to remember these victims as the reasons to practice safe behaviors to prevent future tragedies.

It's a scary thought, but a crash could happen to any of us. You may not have heard about any of these crashes in the past week. There's a good chance these violent episodes didn't occur in your community, and you may not have had any connection to the victims or those involved.

But we are all connected when we are on the road. All it takes is a simple mistake to turn a routine drive into a fatal or life-changing collision.

Driving is a privilege. It's an activity that carries a great amount of responsibility, as well as focus and attention. When we are behind the wheel, our primary goal must be to get to our destination safely.

Driving is not a time to conduct other business. It's not an opportunity to daydream. It's not a race.

Far too many lives are lost on Minnesota roads each year. It's up to each of us to stop these tragedies.

We can prevent crashes and we can reverse this trend to reduce the deaths.

Please, buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention, drive sober - and drive cooperatively, not competitively.

Commissioner Mona Dohman

MN Department of Public Safety