October is the deadliest month for unbelted traffic deaths in 2012, according to preliminary reports from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. To-date for the year, 87 motorists killed in crashes were not buckled up of which 15 were in October.
All of the 15 October unbelted deaths were outside the seven-county metro area. August (14), June (11) and February (11) also rank high for unbelted deaths in 2012.
The news comes following a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign, Oct. 12-26, during which 8,569 motorists were cited for not wearing seat belts. The results were reported by 322 participating agencies. The citations include 216 child passenger safety seat violations.
In a similar enforcement effort in October 2011, 9,999 motorists were cited for seat belt non-use.
"Most Minnesota motorists make smart decisions and belt up, but a deadly month in October demonstrates that many still take an extreme risk by not buckling up," says Donna Berger DPS Office of Traffic Safety director.
DPS recently announced Minnesota's statewide seat belt use rate is a record-high 93.6 percent.
Each year, DPS conducts an observational survey of more than 16,000 motorists across the state.
Separate, smaller-scale Greater Minnesota regional surveys showed belt use is low in rural areas, where 80 percent of the state's unbelted deaths occur annually.
2009-11 MN seat belt stats
There were 878 motorist traffic deaths of which 377 (43 percent) were not buckled up.
80 percent of the unbelted deaths occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities' area.
Of the 377 unbelted deaths, 179 (48 percent) of the victims were age 30 or younger; 154 (41 percent) were ages 16-29.
Of the 108 teen vehicle occupants (ages 13-19) killed, only 35 (32 percent) were belted.
Everyone must be belted
In Minnesota, drivers and passengers in all seating positions, including in the back seat, are required 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.
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.
In a crash, odds are six times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.
Keeping kids safe
Minnesota's child passenger safety law makes drivers responsible for ensuring children are properly secured and riding in the correct child restraint:
Rear-facing car seats -- Use from birth and recommended up to age 2.
Forward-facing car seats -- From age 2 until child outgrows restraint.
Booster seats -- Start using around age 4; safest to ride in a booster until 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8.
Boosters raise children up so the seat belt properly fits them and does not rub/cut across necks.
For more information on child passenger safety visit www.buckleupkids.mn.gov.