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Click It or Ticket: Increased seat belt patrols in Lake County May 19 - June 1

From the Two Harbors Police Department

Motorists and passengers are reminded of the importance of buckling up as extra Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols take to the roads statewide for two weeks – May 19-June 1. The Two Harbors Police Department and Lake County Sheriff’s Office are among nearly 400 Minnesota agencies increasing patrols to encourage motorists to buckle up.

In the last five years on Minnesota roads there were 1,423 motor vehicle occupant deaths, of which 587 (41.3 percent) were not buckled up. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, data from the past five years also show:

• more than 40 percent (237 of 587) of unbelted fatalities were between 15- to 29-years-old

• nearly 64 percent (190 of 298) of drinking drivers killed were not wearing a seat belt

• nearly 44 percent (474 of 1,084) of those killed in greater Minnesota crashes were unbelted compared to 33 percent (113 of 339) in the seven-county metro area

In Lake County during this time period, seven unbelted motorists were killed and 36 were seriously injured.

“Every year, teens and young adults represent a large percentage of unbelted traffic deaths, which indicates there is still a major issue with seat belt usage among that age group,” said Two Harbors police officer, James Cavallin, “for whatever reason – be it comfort, restriction or philosophy – some motorists and passengers still refuse to wear their seat belts. We ask them to remember that their minor inconvenience could turn out to be a major life saver.”

Drivers, passengers – including those in the back seat – must be belted

In Minnesota, drivers and passengers in all seating positions, including those in the back seat, are required to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Seat belts must be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

The importance of buckling up

In rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. In most cases, the vehicle will roll over them. Often, unbelted motorists will crack teeth out on steering wheels or break their nose, and even slam into and injure or kill others in the vehicle.

In a crash, odds are six times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.

Minnesota child car seat law and steps

Minnesota statute requires children under age eight to ride in a federally approved car seat or booster, unless the child is four feet, nine inches or taller. Safety restraint steps progress as children age and grow:

Rear-facing infant seats should be used for newborns to at least one year and 20 pounds; they are recommended up to age two. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.

Forward-facing toddler seats are for children age two until around age four. It’s preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint as long as possible.

Booster seats are used once a child has outgrown a forward-facing harnessed restraint; kids are safest to remain in a booster until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least eight years old.

Seat belts are suitable for children when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, with feet touching the floor. Children 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller can correctly fit in a lap/shoulder belt.

Promoting the message

The Two Harbors Police Department and Lake County Sheriff’s Office stress the importance of citizens’ role in promoting seat belt enforcement to encourage belt use.

“We want motorists to be the true enforcers of the law and speak up to remind others to belt up,” Cavallin said. “The last thing we care to do is write seat belt tickets.”

Toward Zero Deaths

Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement and education is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths 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.