Extra seat belt patrols happening through end of the month

Published 11:35 am Monday, September 20, 2021

To help keep Minnesotans alive or avoid life-changing injuries, the Albert Lea Police Department is joining law enforcement agencies statewide in extra seat belt patrols through Sept. 30.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the patrol, education and awareness campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Two seconds. That’s it all takes to buckle up,” said Albert Lea Police Department Lt. Jeff Strom in a news release. “It’s such a simple, easy action. If you click it and get into a crash, you’ll significantly increase your chances of seeing your family and friends again. Some may say they’re safe drivers and if they don’t buckle up, they’ll only hurt or kill themselves in a crash and not other motorists, unlike drunk drivers or speeders. Tell that to your loved ones left behind with the hurt and emptiness in their lives if you die. Not comforting at all. Drive smart, buckle up and be a part of their lives for as long as possible.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the lives saved by seat belts nationwide would fill a professional sports stadium — more than 69,000 people — from 2015 to 2019.

The Albert Lea Police Department and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office wants to continue promoting life-saving choices and stop the growing number of unbuckled fatalities across Minnesota:

  • Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 8, preliminary reports show 68 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads compared with 65 this time last year.
  • The 68 fatalities are 45% higher than unbelted deaths at this time in 2019 (47).
  • The loss of life comes after a deadly 2020 when 105 unbelted motorists died compared to 73 in 2019.
  • The 105 unbelted motorist deaths in 2020 were the highest since 2014 (106).

As of Sept. 17, preliminary numbers from the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety show 339 overall traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads in 2021 compared with 276 this time last year.

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must wear seat belts or be in the correct child restraint. Occupants must correctly wear seat belts low and snug across the hips, and they should never tuck straps under an arm or behind the back. If you are unbuckled, expect to be stopped.