ST. PAUL – Looking around, it doesn’t take long to find a distracted driver drifting over the fog line. Many Minnesotans also know that heartbeat-skipping moment when a vehicle pulls out in front of them, when a deer comes out of nowhere or when a road-rage driver follows dangerously close. The first line of protection against all of those dangers is a seat belt.
To remind motorists that seat belts save lives and enforce the law, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state will participate in the Click It or Ticket campaign May 22 – June 4. The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the extra enforcement and education campaign.
“Most Minnesotans are making the right choices by buckling up at a 93 percent rate,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Still, law enforcement across the state ticketed 1,517 motorists for not buckling up during a two-week extra distracted driving enforcement period in April. That decision could have had life-changing consequences if the motorists were involved in a crash. Don’t be complacent and drive unbelted, even for a two-block ride down to a friend’s house. You never know when taking three seconds to buckle up will save your life.”
Good News and Bad News
Fortunately, most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up.
- According to the 2016 Minnesota Observational Seat Belt Survey, 93 percent of front seat occupants were wearing their seat belts.
- Since 1987, motor vehicle occupant serious injuries have decreased 82 percent.
For those choosing not to buckle up, the results are tragically hurting families across Minnesota.
- Over a five year period (2011-2015), 152 unbelted motorists lost their lives during the 100 deadliest days on Minnesota roads (Memorial Day – Labor Day).
- In 2016, preliminary numbers show 79 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads.
- In 2015, 87 percent of the unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota (outside the seven-county Metro area)
Border to Border Challenge
To kick off the Click It or Ticket campaign, Minnesota law enforcement is participating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s “Border to Border” Operation. The nationwide seat belt enforcement effort will cover half the country and will focus on seat belt violations from 4 – 8 p.m. on May 22. Nationally, unbelted fatalities are more prevalent at night than during the daytime hours. Fifty-one percent of those killed in 2015 during the overnight hours of 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. were unbelted at the time of the crash.
It’s the Law
Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must 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, and shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.
Minnesota Child Car Seat Law and Steps
- In Minnesota, the law requires that all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’9” tall or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
- Rear-facing child seats - Newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds and recommended up to age 2. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.
- Forward-facing seats - Age 2 until around age 4. It's preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint until they reach the maximum weight limit.
- Booster seats - Use after outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
- Seat belts - Use when children can sit with their back against the seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the edge with their feet touching the floor
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 (DPS-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. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for child seats for the needy families program.
DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. 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 medical and trauma response.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
- Law enforcement statewide issued 1,017 citations to drivers for texting while driving and 1,517 seat belt violations during the April distracted driving extra enforcement campaign.
- Law enforcement statewide arrested 2,407 drivers for DWI during the holiday extra DWI enforcement campaign. That’s compared with 2,502 arrests during the 2015 holiday period campaign.
- Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2015 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.