ST. PAUL — As statewide, increased Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement rolls into its final weekend, new Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety data highlight a high ejection rate of unbelted motorists in rollover crashes.
In Minnesota during 2009–2011, 81 percent (93) of the 114 unbelted motorists killed in rollover crashes were ejected from the vehicle. In contrast, of the motorists not injured or who suffered only minor injuries as a result of nearly 15,000 rollover crashes during this timeframe, 82 percent were buckled up.
“Rollover crashes are incredibly violent and made even more so when motorists aren’t buckled up,” says Donna Berger, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety. “In rollover crashes, an unbelted motorist is usually thrown from the vehicle, and in many cases, the vehicle rolls over the victim.”
Rollover crashes are caused by unstable fast turns or sharp changes of direction.
Click It or Ticket — The Final Weekend
The statewide and nationwide increased seat belt enforcement campaign concludes June 3. Results from the campaign that began May 21 will be announced in mid-June. In Minnesota, about 400 law enforcement agencies are increasing patrols along with 10,000 agencies nationwide in an effort to stop preventable deaths and injuries.
Seat Belt Facts, 2009–2011:
• There were 878 motorist traffic deaths of which 377 (43 percent) were not buckled up.
• Of the 377 unbelted deaths, 179 (48 percent) of the victims were age 30 or younger.
• Of the 377 unbelted deaths, 300 (80 percent) occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities’ area.
Primary Seat Belt Law — Saving Lives
The state’s primary seat belt law is saving lives, according to a University of Minnesota study released in March. The study reported the law has resulted in 68 fewer deaths, 320 fewer injuries and $45 million in avoided hospital charges since enacted nearly three years ago (June 2009).
The primary law requires passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, 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.
Keeping Kids Safe
The Click It or Ticket campaign also includes enforcement of Minnesota’s child passenger safety law which makes drivers responsible for ensuring children are 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 — Upon outgrowing forward-facing restraint, use until age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall, whichever comes first. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height rather than age. Boosters raise children up so the seat belt properly fits them.
For more information on child passenger safety visit www.buckleupkids.mn.gov.
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.
Recent OTS Activity
• OTS launched a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement effort, running through June 3 featuring a dramatic TV spot and digital billboards comparing crashing unbelted at 60 mph to falling from 12 stories high.
• Preliminary results from a statewide distracted driving enforcement effort April 19 resulted in 97 texting while driving citations and more than 2,400 vehicle stops.
• OTS released a study conducted by the University of Minnesota that found the primary seat belt law has resulted in 68 fewer deaths since the law was enacted nearly three years ago.
• OTS is coordinating a pilot program for parent-teen driver awareness courses, to educate parents about their responsibilities to train and monitor their new teen driver.
• A St. Michael teen won the $1,000 grand prize of the Buckle Up Teens! TV Commercial Challenge with 80 percent of the vote. The contest calls on teens to create TV PSAs to educate peers. View the winner and finalists at http://rockthebelt.org/buckleupteens/. Cash prizes donated by AAA Minnesota/Iowa.