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Seat belt enforcement campaign in effect through June 6

With unbelted deaths in Minnesota outpacing previous years, law enforcement statewide will be conducting extra seat belt patrols through June 6 to stop the growing loss of life. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Preliminary reports show 38 unbelted motorists died as of May 21 compared with 25 this time last year, a 52 percent increase. This follows a deadly 2020 when 112 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads compared to 73 in 2019. The 112 unbelted motorist deaths in 2020 were also the highest since 2012 (116).

“Would you like the lecture or the eulogy?” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Sadly, the number of grieving families hearing the eulogies is way too high when you consider how these deaths can be so easily prevented. If you want to be there for your loved ones, stop with the weak excuses for not wearing a seat belt. Drive smart and buckle up.”

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.

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. 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 a harness until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car seat manufacturer. 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. 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 comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching and feet touching the floor.