ST. PAUL –Troopers, officers and deputies are seeing a trend on Minnesota roads — motorists choosing to put safety first. During October’s Click It or Ticket campaign, law enforcement reported 5,550 motorists were cited for seat belt violations from Oct. 9 – 25, a 33 percent drop from last year’s October wave when 8,195 motorists were ticketed and the lowest since 2010.
Across Minnesota, 320 law enforcement agencies reported results that included 128 child seat citations, down from 219 last year at this time.
More Work to Be Done
The significant decline in seat belt citations is a step in the right direction, but one unbelted motorist could cost a person their life. In addition to the State Patrol writing 2,032 seat belt violations, other agencies reporting high number of violations include:
- St. Paul Police Department: 204
- Minneapolis Police Department: 132
- Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office: 113
- Moorhead Police Department: 100
- Blaine Police Department: 85
“With 94 percent seat belt compliance for front seat occupants, we know lives are being saved,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Still, with half of Minnesota road deaths attributed to unbelted motorists, that means too many people are gambling with their lives by not buckling up.”
Live Another Day
During a crash, an unbelted motorist becomes a projectile in the vehicle, potentially injuring others. An unbelted motorist also risks being ejected from the vehicle. In 2014, 94 percent of vehicle occupants who were ejected or partially ejected and died were not wearing seat belts.
Seventeen-year-old Kianna Stewart of Red Wing, who fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed her vehicle in August, believes she would not be alive today had she decided not to buckle up.
“A seat belt is a decision that could save your life. If I wasn’t wearing mine, I don’t think I would be here to tell people to put one on,” said Stewart. “This wouldn’t have ended the way it did. I don’t think I would’ve had a chance to survive. I would have been rolled over by my car if I wasn’t kept in by my seat belt.”
Join the Crowd
The 2015 Minnesota Observational Seat Belt Survey shows 94 percent compliance for front seat occupants. For the fifth straight year, seat belt use among male front seat occupants was above 90 percent.
- 90.4 percent in 2011
- 91.9 percent in 2012
- 92.6 percent in 2013
- 92.8 percent in 2014
- 91.8 percent in 2015
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. Under Minnesota law, officers can 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, 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; 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 vehicle 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 the child seats for 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
- Officers, deputies and troopers made 1,513 arrests during the enhanced DWI enforcement campaign Aug. 21 – Sept. 7; that’s compared with 1,340 during the campaign a year ago.
- Increased fines for repeat texting while driving offenders went into effect August 1. Under the enhanced law, drivers face a $225 fine for second and subsequent violations of the texting while driving law, in addition to the current $50 fine. The $275 fine, plus court fees, can cost an offender more than $300.
- Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2014 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.