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From byway to highway, wearing seatbelts is a law of the roadway!

Tue, May 24th, 2011
Posted in Police Reports

LANESBORO - To prevent the traffic fatalities and serious injuries associated with unbelted nighttime, teen, and rural drivers, southeastern Minnesota community members and traffic professionals are rallying to support Click It or Ticket efforts. Belt use is especially an issue in greater Minnesota communities - where nearly 80 percent of unbelted traffic deaths occur on an annual basis.

The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign, taking place from May 23-June 5, is a component of the state's Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) initiative. The TZD vision 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 education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma services to reduce crashes.

The Click It or Ticket campaign includes nearly 400 Minnesota agencies working overtime patrols, supported by federal funds to increase seat belt use and stop preventable traffic deaths. Each year in Minnesota, at least 200 unbelted motorists are killed. From 2007-2009 in southeastern Minnesota, 67 unbelted motorists were killed and 138 were seriously injured - costing the area more than $90,073,500.

According to Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen, a seat belt is a motorist's best defense in case of a crash. He notes that 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.

Southeastern Minnesota law enforcement agencies will enforce the state's primary seat belt law during the effort - placing special emphasis on nighttime driving, teen drivers and rural drivers. The primary law requires that all vehicle occupants be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. A seat belt fine is $25, but can cost more than $100 when adding in court and administrative fees.

"Seat belt enforcement is important to stop preventable deaths or injuries," says Jensen. "While we would rather not cite anyone for the violation, we know that a ticket is usually what will convince people to start making the smart decision to always belt up." Jensen adds that motorists need to be the first line of enforcing the law by speaking up and insisting that all passengers are belted.

The southeastern Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths initiative brings area law enforcement, public health educators, engineers and emergency medical and trauma services together in an effort to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and severe injuries to zero in southeastern Minnesota. The 11-county area includes: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Winona and Wabasha counties.

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