St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News)- Law enforcement agencies across Minnesota have kicked off a two-week seatbelt enforcement effort. 

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“Do you want your loved ones’ gratefulness and peace of mind? Adopt the easy habit of buckling up,” said Mike Hanson, director of Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). “It’s heartbreaking to see a crash where wearing a simple seat belt could have changed the outcome. Take two seconds and do the right thing.” 

State officials say 87 people died and 1,244 were seriously injured after not being buckled during traffic crashes last year. The carnage is in spite of Minnesota reporting a 93% compliance rate with the seatbelt law and fatalities involving unbelted motorists dropping in 2022. 

Officials say there have been 18 unbelted motorists who have died on Minnesota roads through May 14 of this year, which is down from 25 last year at this time, 35 in 2021 and 25 in 2020. 76% of fatalities involving unbuckled drivers occur outside of the Twin Cities Metro. 

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State traffic safety officials also say 88% children ages 0-7 who were properly buckled into a car seat survived crashes without injury and 9% suffered only minor injuries. State law requires all children be in a child safety seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall or at least 8 years old, whichever comes first. 

The OTS offered these tips to ensure children are properly restrained in a vehicle:

  • Rear-facing seats: 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. It is safest to keep children rear-facing up to the maximum weight limit of the car seat.
  • Forward-facing seats with harness: Toddlers and preschool-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing seat with harness. They should use this seat until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Booster seats: School-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat can sit on a booster seat. The booster must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • Seat belts: Buckling up with a seat belt is for children 8 years old or who have reached 4 feet, 9 inches. Your children are ready for adult seat belts 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.

The latest “Click it or Ticket” campaign runs through the Memorial Day Weekend, ending on June 4. Along with extra enforcement, authorities are also advertising the importance of buckling up for all Minnesotans.

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