Spring means " Click it or Ticket" in Minneapolis

To prevent a repeat of the deadly spring of 2010, when traffic crashes killed 11 people within four days (nine were not belted); Minneapolis Police officers will increase Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols from May 23rd through June 5th.

The campaign includes nearly 400 Minnesota agencies working overtime patrols supported by federal dollars to increase seat belt use and stop preventable traffic deaths. Each year in Minnesota, at least 200 unbelted motorists are killed. From 2007–2009, more than 600 unbelted motorists were killed and more than 1,200 were seriously injured.

Minneapolis Police officers will enforce the state’s primary seat belt law during the effort. The primary law requires passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. A seat belt fine is $25 but can cost more than $100 with court and administrative fees.

The primary law has helped the state achieve a record-high daytime seat belt compliance rate of 92 percent. In a recent pre-enforcement seat belt observational survey in Minneapolis, 94 percent of motorists were belted. Minneapolis Police officers will conduct another survey following the enforcement to measure seat belt use.

The campaign will also include 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, whichever comes first. This law requires booster seats for children usually starting at age 4 to ensure adult seat belts fit them correctly.

The Minneapolis Police Department is stressing belt use especially among teens and young adults, the groups with the lowest seat belt use rates. Statewide each year, motorists age 15–29 account for 45 percent of all unbelted deaths, yet this group represents only 25 percent of licensed drivers. This same age group accounts for 55 percent of all unbelted serious injuries. The enforcement effort will also include a nighttime seat belt enforcement focus. Each year, more than 60 percent of the nighttime fatalities (9 p.m. to 3 a.m.) are not buckled up.

In April, a driver was killed in a low speed rollover accident in Minneapolis which would have only resulted in minor injuries to the driver if he had been properly using his seatbelt.

The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Death ( TZD) initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes; education, enforcement, traffic engineering and emergency trauma response.

For more information contact Sgt. Scott Olson of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit at (612) 673-3443.

Published May 20, 2011