ST. PAUL – Children are our most precious cargo in a vehicle, and if they are not properly secured, a crash can go from an inconvenience to a life-changing event. That could have been the case for Christine Arenz if she had not properly secured 5-year-old Katherine, 3-year-old William, 8-month-old Elizabeth and herself before a crash in January of 2017.
To remind motorists that seat belts and car seats save lives, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state will participate in the Click It or Ticket campaign starting Monday and running through June 3. The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the extra enforcement and education campaign.
“Christine never expected a vehicle to pull out in front of her van, and most of us never expect to be in a crash, but we must always expect the unexpected when driving and protect ourselves by wearing our seat belts,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Ninety-two percent of motorists are buckling up. For those who are not making that choice, now is the time to join the crowd. Think about life without you in it. Think of your children who would be without a parent or your parents’ emptiness if you were gone. Together we can all save lives on Minnesota roads.”
Join the Crowd
Fortunately, most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up.
- According to the 2017 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 92 percent of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts.
- From 1987 to 2016, motor vehicle occupant serious injuries decreased 68 percent.
For those choosing not to buckle up, the results are tragically hurting families across Minnesota.
- In 2017, preliminary numbers show 73 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads.
- In a five year period (2013 – 2017), 443 unbelted motorists died when a different decision may have saved them.
- In a five year period (2013 – 2017), 33 percent of the 1,335 people killed while riding in motor vehicles were not wearing seat belts.
Speak Up about Buckling Up
An unbelted motorist can crash into a windshield and get thrown into other passengers. Often times, an unbelted occupant is ejected from the vehicle and killed.
Drivers are in charge of their vehicles and of the safety of their passengers. They can refuse to start the car until every passenger is belted. Passengers also can speak up if the driver is endangering everyone in the vehicle by not buckling up.
Border to Border Extra Seat Belt Enforcement
Across the country, law enforcement agencies will team up for increased seat belt enforcement and awareness to reduce traffic fatalities and save lives.
- The event will run between 4 and 8 p.m. on May 21.
- The operation will include both interstates and local roadways.
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 safety seat. 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, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’9” 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. It is safest to keep children rear-facing up to the maximum weight limit of the car seat.
- 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 - For school-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat. The booster must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.
- Seat belts - For children over 8 years old or have reached 4 feet 9 inches. Your child is ready for an adult seat belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and 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
- Booking airline tickets while driving. Texting with both hands while driving with their knees. Law enforcement officers cited drivers for these types of distractions during the recent extra enforcement campaign. Officers, deputies and troopers cited 1,576 motorists compared with 1,017 during last year’s campaign.
- Families of Drunk Driving Victims Speak Up about Sober Rides
- DPS Video: Life without Lindsay: Sober Driving Matters
- DPS Video: BEHIND THE WHEEL: Teen Driver Safety 101
- Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) show 358 people died on Minnesota roads in 2017. These numbers may change, but this is the lowest number of fatalities in Minnesota since 1944 (356).