Enforcement effort leads to 27 citations

Published 9:15 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

During the statewide Click It or Ticket enforcement effort, Oct. 9-22, Albert Lea and Freeborn County law enforcement officers combined generated 27 seat belt and zero child restraint citations.

More than 400 law enforcement agencies statewide participated in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety enforcement effort aimed at increasing seat belt and child restraint use among Minnesota motorists.

Each year in Minnesota, 200 unbelted motorists are killed in crashes and more than 400 are seriously injured.

Email newsletter signup

The October campaign was the first statewide seat belt enforcement effort since Minnesota’s primary seat belt law became effective on June 9. The primary law requires passengers in all seating positions — including the back seat — to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint.

Law enforcement officers can stop and ticket motorists solely for seat belt violations, including unbelted passengers. A seat belt citation is $25 but can run as much as $115 with court and administrative fees.

Special nighttime belt patrols conducted during the campaign resulted in nine citations. Law enforcement officers focused on nighttime patrols to combat a disproportionate number of unbelted traffic deaths during nighttime hours. During 2006-08, 64 percent of nighttime (9 p.m. to 3 a.m.) fatal crash victims were not wearing seat belts.

“Enforcing seat belt use is something everyone can do just by speaking up and insisting your passengers are belted,” says Albert Lea Police Lt. J.D. Carlson. “We would much rather see that you and your passengers are buckled up before you hit the road, than meet up with you later to issue you a ticket for not wearing your seat belt.”

Pre enhancement seat belt survey results were 74 percent. Post enhancement seat belt survey results were 85 percent. (Surveys were conducted same day of the week, same time of day and at same intersections pre and post enhancement)

In the last three years (2006-08) in Freeborn County, 15 motorists died — eight were unbelted — and another nine were seriously injured. The estimated economic impact of unbelted deaths and serious injuries in Freeborn County during this period was $9,940,000. Statewide during this period, 1,097 motorists were killed in crashes — 539 were unbelted — and another 1,152 unbelted motorists were seriously injured.

The Click It or Ticket enforcement effort is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths initiative. The initiative is a multi-agency approach to address traffic issues regionally through enforcement, education, engineering and emergency trauma care.