ST. PAUL, Minn. — Motorists and passengers in Minnesota are buckling up at record high rates, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. Results from DPS’ annual observational seat belt use survey—conducted in June—show a 94.8 percent seat belt use rate. This marks a more than 15 percent increase in belt use since 2003; up from 93.6 percent in 2012.
DPS officials attribute the continued increase in seat belt use to awareness and enforcement of the state’s primary seat belt law, which became effective in June 2009.
The announcement of the new seat belt use rate comes during a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign that runs through Oct. 19.
Despite the increase in belt use, OTS officials say there is still room for improvement, noting the correlation between increased belt use and the decline of unbelted deaths.
“Seat belts save lives, and the increase in belt use is a positive sign that more and more people realize that,” says Donna Berger, OTS director. “However, more than 100 unbelted motorists and passengers are killed every year on Minnesota roads. We ask everyone to do their part to reduce these preventable tragedies by buckling up, every ride, every time.”
Charting Minnesota Seat Belt Use Rates and Unbelted Deaths
As seat belt use has increased, unbelted deaths have dropped:
- 1986: (the year Minnesota first passed a seat belt law): Belt compliance was 20 percent; 280 unbelted deaths.
- 2003: Belt compliance was 79.4 percent; 257 unbelted deaths.
- 2008: Belt use was 86.7 percent; 150 unbelted deaths.
- 2012: Belt use was 93.6 percent; 116 unbelted deaths.
Seat Belt Survey Results
- Data were collected at 240 sites in 43 counties based on where 85 percent of the state’s road deaths occurred on average from 2007–2009. 16,436 front seat occupants were observed.
- Belt use rate by vehicle type: Van — 97.3 percent; SUV — 96.7 percent; Car — 95.8 percent; Pickup — 86.8 percent. Pickup occupant belt use is historically low, but has improved (up from 76 percent in 2008).
- Belt use rate by gender: Females — 97.5 percent; Males — 92.6 percent. Both rates are up from last year: Females—95.6 percent; Males—91.9 percent.
- Belt use rate by age: 0–10 — 99.4 percent; 11–15 — 99.2 percent; 16–29 — 92.8 percent; 30–64 — 95.4 percent; 65 and older — 93.7 percent.
Minnesota Seat Belt Law
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.
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