Traffic fatalities rapidly climbing as unbelted deaths surpass previous year-to-date figures

Published 5:13 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

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Law enforcement participating in Click-It or Ticket campaign through the end of the month

Even with fewer motorists on the road in 2020, unbelted deaths last year were the highest since 2014. Unfortunately, unbelted fatalities could surpass last year’s numbers by the end of this year.

The Click It or Ticket statewide seat belt campaign Sept. 19  to Sept. 30 strives to stop the growing, preventable heartache spreading among families across Minnesota.

Troopers, deputies and officers will be conducting extra seat belt patrols to help keep Minnesotans alive or avoid life-changing injuries. 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.

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“Too many Minnesota families are hurting over a loss that is so easily preventable, and it’s getting worse,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Motorists choosing not to wear seat belts need to think beyond themselves, take responsibility and buckle up. As their excuses add up — I forgot to wear it; it’s only a short drive to the store; it’s my decision to make — unbelted fatalities are adding up at a tragic rate we haven’t seen in years. It’s inexcusable. Seat belts are your first and last line of defense in the event that a driver makes a mistake, but they only work if you use them. Drive smart and wear your seat belt.”

Unbelted motorists contributing to increase in traffic deaths

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).

In 2020, 79% of the unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota (outside the seven-county metro area).