ST. PAUL – With three of four child seats not used correctly and half of all traffic fatalities involving unbelted drivers and passengers, law enforcement agencies across the state will be focusing on car seat and seat belt use March 21-30.
Nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies are adding extra patrols during the Click It or Ticket campaign that runs the next ten days.
While a record-number of Minnesotans buckle up (94 percent), approximately 150 deaths and 400 serious injuries annually involve motorists who are not buckled up. Preliminary 2013 data shows 94 fatalities and 247 serious injuries were reported where the motor vehicle occupant was unbelted. (This count is expected to rise as 2013 data continues to come in.)
In addition, preliminary reports show two children under the age of 8 who were not properly restrained in a car seat were killed and seven more were seriously injured last year.
“Far too many people die or are seriously injured on our roads because they didn’t buckle up,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “It’s the law – all motorists must buckle up, even when riding in the back seat. Seat belts and child seats can – and do – save lives.”
Minnesota Seat Belt Law
Minnesota’s seat belt law is a primary offense, meaning drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. A seat belt ticket can cost between $25 to more than $100.
Minnesota Child Passenger Safety and Booster Seat Law
Children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat. A child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches is required to be fastened in a child safety seat or booster seat that meets federal safety standards. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall – whichever comes first. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height, rather than their age. Learn more about child passenger safety and the booster seat law.
About the Minnesota Department 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
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. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative. 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 trauma response.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights
Extra DWI patrols for St. Patrick’s Day weekend resulted in the arrest of 495 motorists for DWI, according to preliminary reports from Minnesota law enforcement agencies.
To-date, 2014 is off to a deadly start. There have been 61 traffic deaths, six more than this time last year.
Roads in Minnesota’s 25 counties with the highest combined totals of drunk driving traffic deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries will be a primary focus for increased DWI enforcement through September 2014.
In a continuing effort to advance traffic safety in Minnesota, DPS awarded new federal grants totaling more than $8.5 million for regional partners to support overtime traffic safety enforcement and educational efforts through September 2014.
OTS projects around 385 traffic deaths for 2013 – approximately 10 fewer fatalities that occurred in 2012.
Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific crash facts.