ST. PAUL, Minn. — Law enforcement cited 8,297 motorists and passengers for not buckling up as part of a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign, Oct. 4–19. In a similar enforcement effort in October 2012, 8,569 motorists and passengers were cited for not wearing a seat belt, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
The enforcement campaign featured 336 participating law enforcement agencies statewide. In addition to the seat belt citations, reporting agencies issued 341 citations for child passenger safety seat violations during the campaign.
“Our goal with these seat belt campaigns is to both educate motorists and passengers, and enforce the law in an effort to reinforce safe driving behavior,” says Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “Enforcement efforts like this one have served an important purpose by increasing belt compliance to record-high levels.”
Minnesota’s statewide seat belt use rate is at a record-high 94.8 percent, according DPS’ 2013 observational seat belt use survey. Each year, DPS conducts an observational survey of more than 16,000 motorists across the state.
Minnesota Seat Belt Statistics (2010–2012) — 361 Unbelted Deaths
Unbelted motorists continue to represent a significant amount of Minnesota’s traffic fatalities, especially in Greater Minnesota. In the last three years on Minnesota roads (2010-2012):
- 852 motorists died in crashes, of which 361 (42 percent) were not buckled up.
- 171 (49 percent) of the 361 unbelted deaths were motorists ages 16–29.
- 302 (84 percent) of the 361 unbelted deaths occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities metro area.
Drivers, Passengers — Including in the Back Seat — Must Be Belted
In Minnesota, drivers and passengers in all seating positions, including in the back seat, are required to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Seat belts must be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.
The Importance of Buckling Up
In a crash, odds are six times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.
In rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. In most cases, the vehicle will roll over the ejected motorist. Often, unbelted motorists will crack teeth out on steering wheels or break their nose, and even slam into and injure or kill others in the vehicle.
Minnesota Child Car Seat Law and Steps
Minnesota statute requires children under age 8 to ride in a federally approved car seat or booster, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller. Here are the restraint steps a child should progress through as they age and grow:
- Rear-facing infant seats — Newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds; recommended up to age 2. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.
- Forward-facing toddler seats — Age 2 until the child has outgrown the size/weight limit. Keep a child in this restraint as long as possible.
- Booster seats — Use once outgrown a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8. Boosters help seat belts fit properly and are the law in Minnesota.
- Seat belts — A child is ready for an adult seat belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor. Children 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller can correctly fit in a lap/shoulder belt.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative. 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.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights