Seat belt usage good in Austin, Mower County

Published 11:06 am Friday, June 17, 2016

Austin and Mower County saw 26 seat belt citations and two child restraint seat citations during the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign from May 23 to June 5.

Austin Police Capt. David McKichan said the Austin Police Department and Mower County Sheriff’s Office logged 57 overtime hours and made 147 traffic stops. Officers cited 19 drivers for speeding and eight for not having a driver’s license or having a revoked or suspended driver’s license.

“It’s similar to what we generally see in a campaign,” McKichan said. “The focus was drivers not wearing their belts, we do go out and do pre- and post-wave [numbers]. We try to survey 500 drivers and see who’s wearing and not wearing their seat belt.”

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Law enforcement officials from around the state gathered in Austin May 23 to kickoff this years Click It or Ticket campaign.

Before the enforcement wave started, there was an 89.6 percent compliance rate, which increased to a 91.8 percent compliance rate after the wave.

“We’re seeing about 90 percent of drivers wearing their seat belt, but that still means 10 percent are not wearing,” McKichan said. “We want to reach that last 10 percent and get them to wear their seat belt.”

In Minnesota, 7,233 seat belt and 213 child restraint citations were handed out, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

More than 300 agencies participated in the extra enforcement campaign.

The numbers are about the same as 2015, which is a long term trend showing positive direction in seat belt compliance, according to the department of public safety.

One violation in Minnesota saw a 4-year-old riding on his mother’s lap and helping steer the vehicle.

“Wearing a seat belt is just common sense and it’s the law, and thankfully most Minnesotans get it,” Office of Traffic Safety Director Donna Berger said in a press release. “For those who say they’re not hurting others by not buckling up, it’s an excuse, and it’s not true. It does hurt others when you’re no longer in their lives because of a fatal crash. Join the crowd and make the right choice to increase your chance to live.”

McKichan agreed and said they were happy that 90 percent of people in Austin and Mower County were wearing their seat belts.

“That makes a huge difference in preventing injuries and deaths,” McKichan said. “That last 10 percent is why we’re still enforcing it. We try to make an impact in that number.”

Austin and Mower County statistics

147 traffic stops

26 seat belt citations

2 child restraint citations

19 speeding citations

8 citations no driver’s license, or revoked or suspended licenses

Click It or Ticket Citations May 2013 – 2016

•2016: 7,233 seat belt citations, plus 213 child restraint citations

•2015: 7,393 seat belt citations, plus 175 child restraint citations.

•2014: 10,874 seat belt citations, plus 279 child restraint citations.

•2013: 10,342 seat belt citations, plus 256 child restraint citations.