When it comes to wearing seat belts, Minnesotans do a pretty good job, with 94.8 percent of drivers and passengers buckling up while on the roads.
There's still room for improvement, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said Monday as it kicked off a two-week seat belt enforcement campaign.
Through June 1, law enforcement from more than 400 agencies will be on the look out for unbelted motorists and children who are not properly restrained in car seats. In the past five years, 587 people who were involved in crashes and not wearing their seat belt died and another 9,739 people were injured. That represents 42 percent of those killed on Minnesota roads, the Department of Public Safety's Office of Public Safety said.
A majority of those who died - 87 percent - occurred in rural Minnesota.
Last year's figures show 94 unbelted motorists died in crashes and 1,668 were injured.
“There are far too many preventable deaths and life-altering injuries occurring on our roads,” said Donna Berger, director of the state's Office of Traffic Safety. “In the next two weeks, you’ll see and hear our seat belt safety messages throughout the state. Buckle up – it’s the law and it’s your best defense in case of a crash.”
Among those killed over the past five years include eight children under eight years old. Under Minnesota law, children must be secured in a car booster or safety seat that meets federal guidelines until they are eight years old or taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.
Figures from the OTS say the three in four children are improperly strapped into car seats, which is why police are also looking for children who are not properly secured.
Failure to wear a seat belt or properly comes with a fine that ranges from $25 to $100.
On a few other traffic notes: There have been 101 deaths on state roads as of Tuesday compared with 99 at this time last year.
During last months's crack down on distracted driving, officers wrote 827 tickets for motorists who were texting while driving.