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Seat belt enforcement effort to begin May 21 in Morris area

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MORRIS, Minn. -- Better be buckled up, because it's Click It or Ticket time, May 21-June 7. In Minnesota, about 400 law enforcement agencies will partner with 10,000 agencies nationwide to work overtime patrols to increase seat belt compliance in an effort to stop preventable deaths and injuries. More than 400 unbelted motorists were killed in the last three years in Minnesota, representing 43 percent of the total motorist deaths.

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Primary Seat Belt Law -- Saving Lives

Morris Police Department will enforce the state's primary seat belt law during the campaign, which is saving lives, according to a University of Minnesota study released in March. The study reported the law has resulted in 68 fewer deaths, 320 fewer injuries and $45 million in avoided hospital charges since enacted three years ago (June 2009).

The primary law requires passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, to 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.

"This law demonstrates how important it is to be belted in every seat, every ride," says Officer Reggie Welle. "Those who don't belt up face a range of negative consequences -- ranging from a ticket to being ejected from the vehicle."

Why Buckle Up

In rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. In most cases, the vehicle will roll over them. Often, unbelted motorists will crack teeth out on steering wheels or break their nose, and even slam into and injure or kill others in the vehicle.

Properly wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger occupants by 45 percent in a car and 60 percent in a light truck.

Seat belts are the most effective means of protecting oneself from injury while riding in a vehicle. In a crash, odds are six-times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.

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Child Passenger Safety

The enforcement campaign will include enforcement of Minnesota's child passenger safety law which requires children to use a booster seat starting after they have outgrown a forward-facing harnessed restraint (typically age 4 and 40-60 pounds, depending on seat's weight limitations). Children should remain in a booster until they are age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall -- whichever comes first. DPS recommends keeping children in boosters based on their height rather than age. Boosters help adult seat belts fit children correctly.

Promoting the Message

Morris Police Department stresses the importance to promote the seat belt enforcement to encourage belt use. Officer just concluded their yearly Teen Driving Safety Campaign at the High School. This campaign rewarded teen drivers for understanding the importance of seatbelt use and other driving distractions.

"This campaign is not about writing tickets, it's about demonstrating that we take this law seriously because many times we've responded to an unbelted fatality crash," says Officer Reggie Welle. "We want motorists to be aware we are out there and encourage them to be the first enforcers by speaking up remind other passengers to get belted."

The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement and education is a component of the state's Toward Zero Death (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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