ST. PAUL — October is the deadliest month for unbelted traffic deaths in 2012, according to preliminary reports from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. To-date for the year, 87 motorists killed in crashes were not buckled up of which 15 were in October.
All of the 15 October unbelted deaths were outside the seven-county metro area. August (14), June (11) and February (11) also rank high for unbelted deaths in 2012.
The news comes following a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign, Oct. 12–26, during which 8,569 motorists were cited for not wearing seat belts. The results were reported by 322 participating agencies. The citations include 216 child passenger safety seat violations. In a similar enforcement effort in October 2011, 9,999 motorists were cited for seat belt non-use.
“Most Minnesota motorists make smart decisions and belt up, but a deadly month in October demonstrates that many still take an extreme risk by not buckling up,” says Donna Berger DPS Office of Traffic Safety director.
DPS recently announced Minnesota’s statewide seat belt use rate is a record-high 93.6 percent. Each year, DPS conducts an observational survey of more than 16,000 motorists across the state. Separate, smaller-scale Greater Minnesota regional surveys showed belt use is low in rural areas, where 80 percent of the state’s unbelted deaths occur annually.
2009–2011 Minnesota Seat Belt Statistics — 377 Unbelted Deaths
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.
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.
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
Minnesota’s child passenger safety law 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 and does not rub/cut across necks.
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
Increased DWI patrols will be on the roads on Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 21, in 13 counties with the most drunk driving deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries.
OTS is investing federal grants totaling more than $7 million to 317 law enforcement agencies and community partner groups for enforcement and education campaigns, Oct. 2012¬–Sept. 30, 2013.