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An Echo Press Editorial: Driving advice: 'click it and live'

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

EP Echo Press Editorial
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It takes just a few seconds. It's easy to do. You don't even know it's there.

Wearing a seat belt can save your life.

This week, Sept. 18-24, troopers, deputies and police officers are trying to drive that message home through the "Click It or Ticket" statewide seat belt campaign.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The campaign includes extra patrols and advertising across Minnesota in support of the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

“Enforcement and education are effective traffic safety tools to help people realize that their decisions matter when it comes to life or death behind the wheel,” said DPS-OTS Director Mike Hanson. “Most Minnesotans buckle up — and it’s a lifesaver. Those who don’t need to think about how quickly the situation on the road can change. It could be the distracted driver suddenly veering toward you or that unseen patch of ice making your vehicle slide off the road and roll. Click it and live.”

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Unbelted motorists contributed to a significant rise in traffic fatalities over the past two years. There are signs of improvement so far this year but even one life lost in a crash is one too many, say state safety leaders.

Just because there's less traffic on Greater Minnesota roads doesn't mean you don't have to bother about buckling up. Remember this: 77% percent of unbelted fatalities in 2021 occurred in Greater Minnesota.

Other information from safety leaders:

  • Through Sept. 11, the 53 unbelted fatalities compare with 72 last year at this time, 66 in 2020 and 48 in 2019.
  • Preliminary counts show 110 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads in 2021 compared with 105 in 2020 and 73 in 2019.
  • The 110 unbelted deaths last year is the highest number since 2014.

This week is also a good time to make sure you are using proper car seats for child passengers. Of the 14,692 children ages 0-7 who were properly restrained in Minnesota crashes from 2017 to 2021, 88% were not injured, while another 9% sustained only minor injuries.
All children must be in a child safety seat until they are 4' 9" tall, or at least 8 years old, whichever comes first. Other safety advice for child seats:

  • Rear-facing seats: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they have reached the height and weight limits allowed by the car seat manufacturer. It is safest to keep children rear-facing up to the maximum weight limit of the car seat.
  • Forward-facing seats with harness: Toddlers and preschool-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing seat with harness until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Booster seats: School-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat can sit on a booster seat. The booster must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.

Remember, Minnesota law states that all drivers and passengers must wear seat belts or be in the correct child restraint. Belts should be tight across the hips or thighs and should never be tucked under the arm or behind the back.

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