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Ask a Trooper: Seat belt campaign still important, needed

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

 

Question: I have heard a lot about Click It or Ticket recently. I thought seat belt use was at an all-time high?

 

Answer: Most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up. According to the 2019 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 93.4% of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts.

Troy Christianson

Unfortunately, that means more than 7% of motorists continue to risk their lives and the lives of those in the vehicle by failing to buckle up.

Riding without a seat belt is gambling with your life. Preliminary numbers show 85 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads so far this year, compared to 61 last year. This is the reason why education and enforcement are necessary: to save lives. We’d rather meet you on the shoulder of the road now than at a violent crash scene down the road.

More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state will be participating in the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign Nov. 16 through 29. The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education campaign.

Law enforcement working overtime patrols will be on the lookout for unbelted motorists. All passengers must be properly restrained — even those in the back seat. All children must also be buckled in the proper child seat.

A seat belt is your best defense in case of a crash — every time you get into a vehicle, be the voice of reason and speak up — remind everyone to buckle up.

Minnesota child seat law and steps:

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

• Rear-facing child seats: Newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds; recommended up to age 2. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.

• Forward-facing seats: Age 2 until around age 4. It’s preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint until they reach the maximum weight limit.

• Booster seats: Use after outgrowing a forward-facing harnessed restraint; safest to remain in a booster until 4 feet, 9 inches tall or at least age 8, whichever comes first.

• Seat belts: Use when children can sit with their back against the vehicle seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the edge with their feet touching the floor. Belts should be worn snug across the hips or thighs and should never be tucked under the arm or behind the back.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48 th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us.

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.