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NEWS RELEASE

Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
CONTACT:
Dave Boxum  651-201-7569
dave.boxum@state.mn.us
Scott Wasserman  651-201-7571
scott.wasserman@state.mn.us
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2021
Traffic Fatalities Rapidly Climbing as Unbelted Deaths Surpass Previous Year-to-Date Figures
Troopers, deputies, officers participating in Click It or Ticket campaign Sept. 19-30
​ST. PAUL – Even with fewer motorists on the road in 2020, unbelted deaths last year were the highest since 2014. Unfortunately, unbelted fatalities could surpass last year’s numbers by the end of this year.

The Click It or Ticket statewide seat belt campaign Sept. 19 – 30 strives to stop the growing, preventable heartache spreading among families across Minnesota.

Troopers, deputies and officers will be conducting extra seat belt patrols to help keep Minnesotans alive or avoid life-changing injuries. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the patrol, education and awareness campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Too many Minnesota families are hurting over a loss that is so easily preventable, and it’s getting worse,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Motorists choosing not to wear seat belts need to think beyond themselves, take responsibility and buckle up. As their excuses add up – I forgot to wear it; it’s only a short drive to the store; it’s my decision to make - unbelted fatalities are adding up at a tragic rate we haven’t seen in years. It’s inexcusable. Seat belts are your first and last line of defense in the event that a driver makes a mistake, but they only work if you use them. Drive smart and wear your seat belt.” 

Unbelted Motorists Contributing to Increase in Traffic Deaths
  • Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 8, preliminary reports show 68 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads compared with 65 this time last year.
  • The 68 fatalities are 45 percent higher than unbelted deaths at this time in 2019 (47).
  • The loss of life comes after a deadly 2020 when 105 unbelted motorists died compared to 73 in 2019.
  • The 105 unbelted motorist deaths in 2020 were the highest since 2014 (106).
  • In 2020, 79 percent of the unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota (outside the seven-county metro area).​

​Unbelted Fatalities by Year, Jan. 1 through Sept. 8 ​ ​
YearNumberPercent*
20165120.3%
20174418.4%
20185422.4%
20194719.0%
20206525.4%
20216821.0%

*This is the percentage of total fatalities for each year to date that involved lack of seat belts.

Most Minnesotans Expect the Unexpected and Buckle Up
Most Minnesotans make the life-saving decision to buckle up because it’s the law and seat belts protect them from unsafe drivers and road hazards. According to the 2019
Minnesota Observational Seat Belt Survey, 93.4 percent of front seat occupants were wearing their seat belts.

The Law is for Safety
Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must wear seat belts or be in the correct child restraint. Occupants must correctly wear seat belts low and snug across the hips, and they should never tuck straps under an arm or behind the back. If you are unbuckled, expect to be stopped.​

Give Your Child a Chance at Life
Adults must take the time to correctly use child restraints, teach children the value of buckling up and model seat belt use. In crashes from 2016-2020, of the 15,670 children ages 0-7 that were properly restrained, 88 percent were not injured while another 9 percent sustained only possible injuries.
  • In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
  • Rear-facing seats - All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they have reached the height and weight limits allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Forward-facing seats with harness - Toddlers and preschoolers who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing seat with harness until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Booster seats - School-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat can sit on a booster seat. It must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • Seat belts - Children 8 years old or have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall can buckle up with seat belts. Your child is ready for an adult seat belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent co​mfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor.​
Resources:
About the Minnesota Department 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. These efforts form a strong foundation for the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.







445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov