Seatbelt enforcement begins todayWhen the slow-moving vehicle made an abrupt and unexpected turn in front of the minivan, Marie — who didn’t wish to give her last name — slammed on the brakes and turned away, but knew she was going to hit the tractor despite her efforts.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — When the slow-moving vehicle made an abrupt and unexpected turn in front of the minivan, Marie — who didn’t wish to give her last name — slammed on the brakes and turned away, but knew she was going to hit the tractor despite her efforts.
She hit hard. The seatbelt across her shoulder and chest reacted as it was supposed to, pulling tight. The forward momentum of her body and the tightness of the belt caused her collarbone to snap.
Her van was a twisted wreck. The crash was so violent that the motor had been shoved through the firewall and pushed against the passenger seat.
Marie was able to walk away from the accident with a broken finger, a broken collarbone and a few bumps and bruises. Her seatbelt may have caused some damage, but, along with her airbag, it also saved her life.
Between 2005 and 2007 in Minnesota, 1,212 people were killed in crashes, and 614 of those were not wearing seatbelts. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) estimates half of those killed would have survived if they had been belted.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota motorists are buckling up more than ever, but as part of the state’s Toward Zero Death Initiative (TZD), troopers, officers and deputies will conduct enhanced patrols beginning Friday during a statewide Safe & Sober “Click It or Ticket” seatbelt enforcement sweep.
For this mobilization a total of $5,400 in overtime will be used between the Worthington Police Department, Jackson Police Department and sheriff’s offices from Nobles, Pipestone, Rock and Jackson counties. This equates to approximately 142 hours, of which at least 30 percent will be served at night.
Because a significant number of traffic deaths are reported during the hours of 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., law enforcement will conduct special night time enforcement patrols during the enforcement, which ends Oct. 19. More than 60 percent of the traffic crash victims from night time hours between 2005 and 2007 were not wearing seat belts.
“There are more kids out and about at night,” said Worthington Police Department’s Safe & Sober officer, Darin Vossen. “And people with a higher propensity for risk-taking while driving.”
Another focus of the campaign is teen drivers — the group with the lowest seatbelt use compliance that is over-represented in traffic deaths as a result.
At the end of the 2007 calendar year, there were 3,907,974 people holding a Minnesota driver’s license. There were 81,505 traffic crashes, causing the death of 510 people and injuring 35,318 others. The estimated economic cost of those crashes totals more than $1.6 billion.