The Minnesota Department of Public Safety - Office of Traffic Safety has announced law enforcement across the state will be conducting an extra seat belt enforcement campaign Nov. 16-29.

Too many motorists are making the dangerous decision to drive or ride in a vehicle unbelted.

Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, preliminary reports show 85 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads this year, compared with 61 this time last year.

This year is the highest number of unbelted fatalities (10) of 15-19-year-olds since 2013 (10).

This year is the highest number of unbelted fatalities (28) of 25-39-year-olds since 2012 (32).

It’s the highest overall year-to-date for unbelted fatalities since 2012 (97).

More than 300 agencies will be enforcing the seat belt law and reminding motorists to drive smart during the “Click It or Ticket” campaign this month.

According to the 2019 Minnesota seat belt survey, 93.4 percent of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts.

In 2019, 73 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads, compared with 96 in 2018.

In 1987, 4,176 vehicle occupants suffered severe injuries in traffic crashes. That number dropped to 1,052 in 2019.

Adults must take the time to correctly use child restraints, teach children the value of buckling up and model seat belt use.

According to statistics from 2015-19:

• Seventeen children (ages 0-7) were killed in motor vehicles

• Seven of the victims were properly secured, six were not properly restrained and restraint use was unknown in four fatalities.

• Of the 87 children (ages 0-7) seriously injured in motor vehicles, 53 percent were known to be properly secured.

In crashes from 2015-19, of the 17,055 children ages 0-7 who were properly restrained, 87 percent were not injured while another 10 percent sustained only possible injuries.

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must wear seat belts or be in the correct child restraint.

Officers will ticket unbelted drivers or passengers.

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.

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 seats – 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.

• Forward-facing seats with harness – Toddlers and preschoolers who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing car 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.

• Booster seats – School-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat can sit on a booster seat. It must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.

• Seat belts – Children 8 years old or who have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall can buckle up with seat belts. Your child is ready for an adult seat belt 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.

“As Minnesotans, we pride ourselves on being responsible. The 93.4 percent of front seat occupants wearing their seat belts in our state is amongst the highest in the country, but, for some reason, we’re slipping back into deadly, old habits,” said Mike Hanson, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety director. “With traffic fatalities on the rise, now is not the time to be complacent. Failing to buckle up, even one time, could lead to a lifetime of regret and heartache. A seat belt is your best defense when another driver makes a mistake. Protect yourself and protect your passengers. Drive smart and buckle up, so you can come home to your loved ones at the end of the day.”

– Image courtesy of the Internet Public Domain