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Click it or Ticket campaign successful

During the statewide Click It or Ticket enforcement effort, May 24-June 6, officers from Bemidji, Beltrami County and Blackduck generated 178 seat belt and five child restraint citations. More than 400 law enforcement agencies statewide participated in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety-coordinated enforcement effort aimed at increasing seat belt and child restraint use among motorists. Each year in Minnesota, unbelted motorists account for more than half of all motorist deaths.

The campaign was the first major enforcement of the primary seat belt law this year, and marks the one year anniversary of it becoming effective, June 9, 2009. The primary law requires passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement officers can stop and ticket motorists solely for seat belt violations, including unbelted passengers.

The campaign also included enforcement of Minnesota's strengthened child passenger safety law that requires children to be in the correct restraint until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall. This law requires booster seats for kids, usually starting at age 4, to ensure adult seat belts fit them correctly.

Special nighttime belt patrols conducted during the campaign resulted in 116 citations. Officers focused on nighttime patrols to combat a disproportionate number of unbelted traffic deaths during nighttime hours.

Bemidji Citizens Patrol conducted a seat belt observational study prior to the seat belt enforcement in the Bemidji area and reported 73 percent of motorists were belted.

During 2006-2008 in Beltrami County, 12 motorists were killed and eight were not belted. Another 39 unbelted motorists were seriously injured.

The Click It or Ticket enforcement effort is a component of the state's Toward Zero Deaths initiative. TZD is a multi-agency approach to address traffic issues regionally through enforcement, education, engineering and emergency trauma care.