A majority of Minnesotans comply with state law requiring motorists to wear their seat belts. Those who don't normally buckle up might want to start a new habit or risk getting a ticket.
Law enforcement agencies across the state will be cracking down on the 17 percent of drivers who don't wear seat belts as the "Safe & Sober Click It or Ticket" campaign kicks off today, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said.
The seat belt enforcement sweep running until Oct. 21 is an effort to reduce the number of unbelted motorists who die in traffic accidents and reduce the percentage of younger drivers who don't wear seat belts.
Though 83 percent of the state's drivers and passengers wear seat belts, motorists ages 16 to 29 have the lowest seat belt use among all age groups, with only 74 percent buckling up, the DPS said. That demographic also is more likely to be represented in accidents and fatal crashes, DPS statistics show.
On a recent September weekend, crashes on state roads claimed four lives, all under age 30. Three of the four fatalities were not wearing seat belts and were ejected.
"Buckling up simply give you a greater chance of surviving a crash," said Sgt. Brian Podany of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.
According to Department of Public Safety figures, motorists who do not buckle up account for one-third of those killed in traffic deaths annually. In a study conducted in June, the DPS found that of the 2,344 vehicle occupants killed in crashes between 2002 and 2006, more than half (1,214) were not wearing seat belts, and that half of those could have survived if they had buckled up.
The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $25 but it can rise to more than $115 when court and administrative fees are tacked on.
A two-week "Click It or Ticket" statewide enforcement campaign earlier this year generated 9,324 seat belt citations. Last year in Minnesota, 373 vehicle occupants were killed in crashes and over half -- 194 -- were not buckled up.
In the first six months of 2007, the DPS reported that 182 people in vehicle died between January and June, and 90 of them were not wearing seat belts.
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