ST. PAUL —Increased Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols will roll statewide Oct. 12–26, in an effort to stop unbelted traffic deaths, of which there were 377 during the last three years. The campaign is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
Unbelted motorists have represented a significant amount of Minnesota’s traffic fatalities from 2009 to 2011, with teens and young adults, and motorist in Greater Minnesota, as the main victims:
- There were 878 motorist traffic deaths of which 377 (43 percent) were not buckled up.
- 80 percent of the unbelted deaths occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities’ area.
- Of the 377 unbelted deaths, 179 (48 percent) of the victims were age 30 or younger; 154 (41 percent) were ages 16–29.
- Of the 108 teen vehicle occupants (ages 13–19) killed, only 35 (32 percent) were 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.
“Traffic deaths are spiking in 2012, and sadly, many of the 286 deaths this year could have been prevented if the victim had buckled up,” says Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “Those that have died are the reasons and reminders to buckle up.”
Why Buckle Up
In rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. In most cases, the vehicle will roll over them. 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.
In a crash, odds are six times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.
Keeping Kids Safe
The campaign will include enforcement of Minnesota’s child passenger safety law which makes drivers responsible for ensuring children are properly secured and riding in the correct child restraint:
- Rear-facing car seats — Use from birth and recommended up to age 2.
- Forward-facing car seats — From age 2 until child outgrows restraint.
- Booster seats — Start using around age 4; safest to ride in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8. Boosters raise children up so the seat belt properly fits them.
Saving Lives — Not Writing Tickets — Is the Goal
The DPS goal of the campaign is to make motorists aware of the enforcement to encourage belt use, save lives and avoid tickets.
“Troopers, officers and deputies respond to hundreds of fatal crash scenes each year and find lack of seat belt use is a big reason for the deaths,” says Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol. “The motorists we stop our not the ‘bad guys,’ they are the people we want to serve and keep safe.”
60 mph Crash with No Seat Belt? Like Falling from 12 Stories High
The added enforcement is supported by a statewide ad campaign anchored by a TV spot
that provides another reason to belt up: The impact of crashing at 60 mph without a seat belt to falling from 12 stories high.
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 traffic safety initiative.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights