City or rural, buckle up

Published 4:23 pm Saturday, March 31, 2012

QUESTION: Who is at greater risk for traffic injuries, drivers in the metro area or drivers on rural roads?

ANSWER: Our families in Minnesota are at greater risk for traffic injuries; 80 percent of Minnesota’s traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. Nationally, traffic deaths occur on rural roads at a rate of 2.5 times higher than on all other roads.

Of the crash fatalities involving Minnesota 15 to 17-year-olds, half are not belted.

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The top three teen excuses for not buckling up are they are not driving very fast, or going very far and that seat belts are uncomfortable — “they bug them.” Remind your teens regularly that 75 percent of all serious motor vehicle crashes occur within 25 miles of a person’s home and 80 percent of deaths and serious injuries occur in cars that are traveling under 40 miles per hour. Make sure that your teen can tell you what three impacts happen with every crash: 1. the car slams into the second car or barrier, 2. a body slams into the steering column, the dashboard, the windshield or another body, and 3. the brain slams into the skull. All of those crashes are much more “uncomfortable” than the seat belt. Please take a few minutes to watch Room To Live on the website.

I am always amazed that research continues to show that the potential of dying a horrible death, causing someone else to die a horrible death, being seriously injured yourself or causing someone else to be seriously injured are not proven motivators for buckling seatbelts. The top motivator is that it will cost you money not to buckle your seat belt. Seat belt use is now a primary law: Police officers will immediately give a ticket if anyone in the car is not buckled up when the car is in motion. Expect a fine of $100.00. April 2 to 8 is the targeted law enforcement week in Minnesota for seat belt violations.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out