When it comes to seat belt usage, Minnesotans do a pretty good job. More than 94 percent of front seat motorists and passengers buckle up when in the car according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's 2015 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey.
But for the six percent of those who don't and are involved in a crash, the results can be deadly. In 2015, 91 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads. Over the past five years, 527 unbelted motorists lost their lives and 1,035 people suffered life-changing injuries, the DPS said.
From Monday through June 5, more than 300 law enforcement agencies from across the state will be looking for motorists who are not wearing their seat belts as part of Click It or Ticket campaign. The goal of the campaign is to increase seat belt usage and prevent serious injuries and deaths, said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director.
“We may trust our own driving abilities, but we’re all vulnerable to the dangerous driving habits of others,” she said. “Protect yourself and your family by buckling up — every seat, every time.”
According to the DPS, wearing a seat belt will reduce the chances of: :
◦Crashing into the windshield.
◦Slamming into and injuring other passengers.
◦Being ejected from the vehicle.
“I would have never guessed that a piece of cloth would save my life," said 11-year-old Josh Krambler, of Buffalo, who survived a crash because he wore his seat belt. The truck he was riding in is shown above. “It is insane to think that I would not be here today if that piece of cloth was never invented. Seat belts are like insurance, you never know when they will save your life.”
Kianna Stewart, 17, of Red Wing, said she's still alive because she made the choice to buckle up on the night she fell asleep at the wheel and rolled her car.
“I could have died that night,” Stewart said. “A seat belt is a decision that could save your life, if I wasn’t wearing mine, I don’t think I would be here to tell people to put one on. I don’t think I would have had a chance to survive.”
In 2015, 77 percent of vehicle occupants who were ejected or partially ejected and died were not wearing a seat belt.
As a reminder, seat belt usage is the law in Minnesota. All drivers and passengers must be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers, or for those not wearing them correctly. Belts must be worn low and snug across the hips, and shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.
The law also requires that children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet 9 inches, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
Photo: Minnesota State Patrol