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Extra seat belt enforcement begins September 16

To help ensure Minnesotans have the best chance of surviving a crash, more than 300 law enforcement agencies will be participating in the statewide Click It or Ticket extra enforcement campaign Sept. 16 – 28.

The campaign reminds people that expecting the unexpected — the drunk driver, the distracted driver, the deer suddenly appearing on the road — will help them stay alive if they buckle up and protect their children with the correct safety seat.

“For motorists who don’t buckle up — sometimes it’s stubbornness, sometimes it’s forgetfulness, sometimes it’s the feeling of invincibility and thinking you’re in total control of what happens on the road,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Whatever the reason, it can kill you. Be smart and take a couple of seconds to click it.”

Wearing a seat belt and using the proper child safety seat increases the likelihood that motorists survive a traffic crash. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS), of the 17,237 children ages 0-7 who were properly restrained in a crash during the last five years, 87 percent were not injured.

The primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions to buckle up or be seated in the correct child restraint. In the five years (2004-2008) leading up to the law, 51 percent of all fatalities (1,008) were known to be unbelted motorists. In the last five years (2014-2018), that number decreased to 34 percent (446). A year prior to the primary seat belt law (2008), 152 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads. In 2018, that number decreased to 96, which was the most deaths since 2014 (106).

During the last five years, 18 children (ages 0 – 7) were killed in motor vehicles and only seven of the victims were known to be properly secured (six were not properly restrained, and restraint use was unknown in five fatalities). Seventy-one percent of the unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota.

In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4’ 9” tall or at least age 8, whichever comes first. 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.

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. 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.

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.