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Enforcement focuses on seatbelts

If you got pulled over May 19 for driving without a seat belt, you weren’t alone. Statewide, law enforcement agencies have started a two-week safety enforcement campaign to remind drivers to click it or get a ticket.

“There are far too many preventable deaths and life-altering injuries occurring on our roads,” said Donna Berger, office of traffic safety director. “In the next two weeks, you’ll see and hear our seat belt safety messages throughout the state. Buckle up — it’s the law and it’s your best defense in case of a crash.”

To kick things off in Dakota County, officers from each department in the county worked a four-hour traffic detail that focused on unbelted drivers and passengers. The group of 19 officers made 143 stops. Officers issued 58 citations, 121 warnings and made three arrests.

“It was a pretty good event if you ask me,” said Peter Zajac, a Farmington Police officer.

Zajac said the goal of the campaign is to change behaviors. He said buckling up is the law and saves lives. Whether officers dole out tickets or warnings the goal of the campaign is to get people to wear their seat belts.

The Click It or Ticket campaign is a component of Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths initiative. The goal of the initiative is to promote safe and smart driving behavior that could help decrease to zero the number of deaths on Minnesota roads. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety the initiative focuses on education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

In the last five years, 1,423 people died on Minnesota roads. Of those deaths 587, 41.3 percent, were not buckled up. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety more than 40 percent of unbelted fatalities were between the ages of 15 and 29.

In rollover crashes unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. According the public safety office, often unbelted motorists will crack teeth out on steering wheels or break their nose. In the worst cases motorists will slam into and injure or kill others in the vehicle. Odds are six times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.

Drivers and all passengers, including in the back seat, are required to wear a seat belt.

It is also important that seat belts be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

Minnesota requires children under age 8 to ride in a federally approved car seat or booster, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller. Car seats progress as children grow. Children under 1 year and 20 pounds should be in rear-facing infant seat; it’s recommended children remain rear-facing until age 2. Children ages 2 to 4, should ride in a forward-facing toddler seat. Booster seats should be used once a child has outgrown a forward-facing restraint.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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