Unbelted motorists account for nearly half of Minnesota's traffic deaths each year. To counter this trend and stop preventable deaths and injuries, the Bemidji and Blackduck Police Departments along with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota State Patrol will conduct enhanced seat belt patrols May 18-31 as part of a statewide Department of Public Safety (DPS) Safe & Sober -- Click It or Ticket enforcement effort. A seat belt citation is $108 in Beltrami County with court and administrative fees.
DPS 2006-2008 preliminary data reports in Beltrami County, 12 motorists were killed -- 7 were not wearing seat belts. Another 17 unbelted motorists were seriously injured during this period. Statewide over the past three years, preliminary data shows 1,096 motorists were killed in crashes -- 518 were unbelted -- and another 1,151 unbelted motorists were seriously injured.
"Increased seat belt patrols are essential to preventing needless tragedies," says Sgt. Mike Mastin of the Bemidji Police Department "But enforcement can't save lives alone -- every motorist should insist their passengers buckle up to ensure a safe ride."
A focus of the enforcement will be teens and young adults -- the groups least likely to buckle up and overrepresented in traffic deaths. Statewide each year, motorists ages 15-29 account for 45 percent of all unbelted deaths, yet this group represents only 25 percent of all licensed drivers. Of these unbelted deaths, 80 percent occur in Greater Minnesota. This same age group accounts for 55 percent of all unbelted serious injuries -- 70 percent occur in Greater Minnesota.
Local law enforcement agencies will also conduct special nighttime seat belt enforcement patrols during the effort. DPS 2006-2008 preliminary data reports there were 276 vehicle occupant traffic deaths during nighttime hours and 169 of the traffic crash victims -- 61 percent -- were not belted.
Buckle Up -- Click It or Ticket.