Police, deputies to begin stepped-up seat belt enforcement campaign

Published 12:57 pm Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Albert Lea Police Department and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office will begin a stepped-up seat belt enforcement campaign Monday, along with more than 300 other law enforcement agencies across the state.

The effort, part of the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign, runs through June 3.

“You may be the perfect driver but it might just be that distracted driver, the deer jumping out of the woods or a drunk driver that blows through an intersection that hits your vehicle,” said Albert Lea Police Department Lt. Jeff Strom in a press release. “A seat belt is the first line of defense if you are in a crash. Without it, it’s like riding a roller coaster without any protection.”

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According to the release, 92 percent of front seat occupants wore their seat belts in a 2017 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, and severe injuries are going down from 4,176 in 1987 to 1,317 in 2016.

Though injuries have gone down over the years, in 2016 there were still 79 unbelted motorists who lost their lives in Minnesota. Of those deaths, 76 percent occurred in Greater Minnesota.

An unbelted motorist can crash into a windshield and get thrown into other passengers, and oftentimes, an unbelted occupant can be ejected from the vehicle and killed, the release stated.

Minnesota law requires drivers and passengers in all positions to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraints. Officers can ticket both unbelted drivers and passengers.


Child car seats

In Minnesota, children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall or at least 8, whichever comes first.

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.

Toddlers and preschoolers who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car-seat manufacturer.

School-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat should use booster seats with a lap and shoulder belt.

The release stated children are ready for an adult seat 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.