Drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts will face a patrol crackdown starting Friday that aims to reduce fatalities.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety will boost the number of patrols to stop and issue tickets. A ticket for not wearing a seat belt can cost about $115 per passenger.

"Patrols are always looking for seat-belt usage," said Public Safety spokesman Nathan Bowie. "But during these campaigns, there are extra dollars put toward agencies statewide to pay some patrols overtime for seat-belt enforcement." According to the agency, 43 percent of statewide motor vehicle fatalities from 2009 to 2011 were people who were not buckled up. Bowie said campaigns such as these, conducted twice a year, can help educate motorists.

"Even if you are in the back seat, you still have to wear a seat belt," Bowie said. "Sometimes people are misinformed and think seat belts do not apply to the back seat. You are certainly not exempt."

The department said the goal of the campaign is saving lives, not issuing more tickets.

"Troopers, officers and deputies respond to hundreds of fatal crash scenes each year and find lack of seat-belt use is a big reason for the deaths," said Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol. "The motorists we stop are not the 'bad guys' -- they are the people we want to serve and keep safe."

Heightened "Click It or Ticket" patrols continue through Oct. 26.

Alejandra Matos • 612-673-4028