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Nathan Bowie  (651) 201-7571
October 18, 2012
State Seat Belt Compliance Continues to Climb; Females, SUV Motorists Best at Belting
Increased Click It or Ticket Patrols Continue through Oct. 26
ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s new seat belt compliance rate is 93.6 percent, marking another increase in belt use which has resulted in fewer unbelted deaths, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. DPS conducted its annual observational belt use survey in June. 

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. 26.

“The continued increase in belt use reflects a growing culture of safety on our roads that will lead to fewer tragedies,” says DPS Commissioner Mona Dohman. “Yet the issue remains serious considering more than 100 people are killed annually who were not buckled up and could be with us today.”

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 (10 years ago): Belt compliance was 79.4 percent; 257 unbelted deaths.
  • 2008 (five years ago): Belt use was 86.7 percent; 150 unbelted deaths.
  • 2011: Belt use was 92.7 percent; 120 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, 2007–2009). 16,924 front seat occupants were observed.
  • Belt use rate by vehicle type: SUV — 95.9; Car — 93.9; Van — 93 percent; Pickup — 87.2.
  • Pickup occupant belt use is historically low, but has improved (up from 76 percent five years ago).
  • Belt use rate by gender: Females — 95.6 percent; Males — 91.9 percent. This gap continues to close; 10 years ago, the gender gap was around 8 percent.
  • Belt use rate by age: 0–10 — 97.4 percent; 11–15 — 84 percent; 16–29 — 93.3 percent; 30–64 — 94.1 percent; 65 and older — 91.9 percent; While a great majority of children were observed riding in car seats, officials note that car seat clinics report three in four car seats are used incorrectly. Belt use is low among 11-15 year olds: During the past five years, 31 were killed, only nine were belted.
Greater Minnesota Regional Seat Belt Surveys

In addition to the annual statewide belt survey, Toward Zero Deaths partners conduct separate, Greater Minnesota regional belt use surveys to measure belt use progress at a local level.

Officials stress that the regional surveys are unrelated to the statewide survey and cannot be compared to the statewide results. The statewide survey provides a comprehensive gauge of statewide belt use, while the regional surveys have a smaller sample size and aim to provide an additional snapshot of belt use to measure local progress.

East Central Minnesota:

  • 85.1 percent (first time regional belt use survey)
  • Counties observed — Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wright.

Northeast Minnesota:

  • 80.5 percent, slightly up from 80.3 percent in 2011.
  • Counties observed (April 2012) — Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine, St. Louis.

Northwest Minnesota:

  • 73.9 percent, up from 65.8 percent in 2011.
  • Counties observed (June 2012) —Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.

Southeast Minnesota:

  • 86.7 percent, up from 84.7 percent in 2011.
  • Counties observed — Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Winona.

South Central Minnesota

  • 84.7 percent, up from 73.2 percent in 2011.
  • Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Nobles, Rock, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan.  

Southwest Minnesota

  • 82.5 percent, up from 81.1 percent in 2011.
  • Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Swift and Yellow Medicine.

West Central Minnesota:

  • 78.8 percent (first-time regional belt use survey)
  • Counties observed — Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Wilkin.

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: enforcement, education 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 traffic safety initiative.

OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths 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



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