Seat belt use is getting better

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seat belt use over the last year in southeastern Minnesota has improved by 2 percent, according to a survey conducted in conjunction with a Click It or Ticket enforcement effort earlier this year.

According to a news release, southeastern Minnesota’s seat belt usage went from 84.7 percent in 2011 to 86.7 percent in the survey, which was conducted in April.

Counties observed in southeastern Minnesota were Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona.

Email newsletter signup

Kristine Hernandez, southeastern Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths coordinator, said there has been significant change in seat belt use in this part of the state since 2006 when the survey was first conducted. At that time, belt use was at 69.4 percent.

“It is important to continue to educate area motorists about the importance of buckling up, every trip, every time, as wearing a seat belt is the best defense in a crash,” Hernandez said.

The goal is 100 percent compliance.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, statewide belt use is at a record high of 93.6 percent.

Seat belt use rates across the state were as follows:

• East central Minnesota: 85.1 percent

• Northeast Minnesota: 80.5 percent

• Northwest Minnesota: 73.9 percent

• Southeast Minnesota: 86.7 percent

• South central Minnesota: 84.7 percent

• Southwest Minnesota: 82.5 percent

• West central Minnesota: 77.3 percent

Seat belt use is historically lower in rural areas compared to the Twin Cities, Hernandez said.

As use has increased, the number of unbelted deaths have dropped, she said.

According to the release, Minnesota first passed a seat belt law in 1986. At that time, seat belt compliance was 20 percent, and there were 280 unbelted deaths.

In 2003, seat belt compliance was at 79.4 percent, and there were 257 unbelted deaths.

In 2008, seat belt use increased to 86.7 percent, and there were 150 unbelted deaths. Finally, in 2011, use was 92.6 percent, and there were 120 unbelted deaths.