Buckle Up – Every Seat, Every Ride

A growing percentage of motorists in Minnesota are buckling up, and those that buck the trend jeopardize their lives and the lives of other motorists. Local police are increasing patrols through Nov 25 to look for violators, along with nearly 400 Minnesota agencies conducting extra seat belt enforcement during the Click It or Ticket education and enforcement campaign.

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Enforcement, education, and strengthening seat belt laws are influencing an increasing number of motorists to buckle up. Before Minnesota’s first seat belt law in June 1986, 20 percent of front seat vehicle occupants wore belts. Last year, 95 percent of drivers and front seat passengers were using seat belts.

Each year in Minnesota, fewer than half of occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes are buckled up. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, from 2011–2013, just 49 percent of the 816 crash victims killed in Minnesota were known to be belted.

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Seat belts must be worn correctly—low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

Minnesota Child Car Seat Law

In Minnesota, children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall or at least age 8, whichever comes first. As children grow up, the car seats they use need to grow up with them:

  • Newborns to at least 1 year and 20 pounds must ride in rear-facing infant seats, which are recommended up to age 2. It is safest to keep a child rear-facing as long as possible.
  • Children from age 2 until around age 4 must ride in forward-facing toddler seats. It’s preferable to keep children in a harnessed restraint as long as possible.
  • After children outgrow a forward-facing harnessed restraint it is safest if they ride in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
  • When children can sit with their backs against the seat and have their knees bent comfortably over the vehicle seat edge with feet touching the floor, they can wear seat belts. Children at least 4 feet 9 inches tall can correctly wear a lap/shoulder belt.

The Golden Valley Fire Department and Safe Kids Northwest Metro Minneapolis are hosting a Car and Booster Seat Inspection Clinic Nov 8 to help educate the public about proper car seat installation. The event will be held from 10 am–1 pm at the Golden Valley Fire Department, 7800 Golden Valley Road. Call (763) 581-3740 to schedule an appointment. Car seat safety checks are also available for Golden Valley residents by appointment. Contact Steve Baker at 763-593-3977.

Toward Zero Deaths

The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement and education is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (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, engineering, and emergency trauma response.

 

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