Click It or Ticket begins Monday
WORTHINGTON — Motorists and passengers are reminded of the importance of buckling up as extra Click It or Ticket seat belt patrols take on the roads statewide for two weeks.
The patrols begin Monday and continue through June 1. Nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will participate in the effort to encourage motorists to buckle up.
According to Josh McCuen, an officer with the Worthington Police Department and its Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) coordinator, there will be 500 extra patrol hours for southwest Minnesota, not including the Minnesota State Patrol.
“This is sort of like a summer kick-off,” McCuen said. “This is the time of year when people start traveling more, and we want to remind people to buckle up.”
Worthington had an 89 percent seat belt usage this past year, according to McCuen, but from 2010 to 2012 the area had 14 unbelted fatalities.
“Seatbelt usage is a primary offense, and officers can stop a vehicle if they not only see the driver not wearing a seatbelt, but passengers as well,” McCuen said.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in the last five years on Minnesota roads — 2009-2013 — there were 1,423 motor vehicle occupant deaths, of which 41 percent of the victims were not buckled up.
Data from the past five years also showed:
* More than 40 percent of unbelted fatalities were between 15 to 29 years old.
* Nearly 64 percent of drinking drivers killed were not wearing a seat belt.
* Nearly 44 percent of those killed in Greater Minnesota crashes were unbelted compared to 33 percent in the seven-county metro area.
“Every year, teens and young adults represent a large percentage of unbelted traffic deaths, which indicates there is still a major issue with seat belt usage among that age group,” Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha said. “For whatever reason — be it comfort, restriction or philosophy — some motorists and passengers still refuse to wear their seat belts. We ask them to remember that their minor inconvenience could turn out to be a major life saver.”
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.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.