- Holly Kostrzewski
MnDOT District 1
1123 Mesaba Ave
Duluth, MN 55811
Northeastern Minnesota Motorists buckle up 80.5 percent, survey says
Seat belt use rate up slightly; survey provides snap-shot of area motorist buckle up-rate
DULUTH — Northeastern Minnesota new seat belt compliance rate is 80.5 percent, reflecting a slight increase— last year’s belt use rate was 80.3 percent.
Northeastern Minnesota region has shown slight improvement in belt use rates when compared to other Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths regions. The survey results were announced in conjunction with a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement effort that lasted through Oct. 26.
The observational survey was conducted in May and data were collected at eight counties.
“Rural areas see more unbelted deaths. Increased belt use results in fewer unbelted deaths, but everyone needs to buckle up,” says Holly Kostrzewski, northeastern Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths coordinator. “Seatbelt use is historically lower in rural areas compared to the Twin Cities. Seatbelt use is the best defense in the case of a crash. It is important we continue to educate area motorists about the importance of buckling up to stop these preventable traffic deaths. Our ultimate goal is 100 percent compliance and by working toward that more people will make it home safely.”
The regional seat belt surveys are unrelated to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) annual statewide survey results announced recently and cannot be compared to the statewide results.
Statewide belt use is a record high 93.6 percent, according to DPS. The statewide survey provides a comprehensive gauge of belt use by measuring counties where 85 percent of the state’s road deaths occurred on average during the past three years, while the regional surveys have a smaller sample size and aim to provide an additional snapshot of belt use to measure local progress.
Regional Seat Belt Use Rates
East Central Minnesota:
- 85.1 percent (first time regional belt use survey)
- Counties observed — Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wright.
- 80.5 percent, slightly up from 80.3 percent in 2011.
- Counties observed (April 2012) — Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine, St. Louis.
- 73.9 percent, up from 65.8 percent in 2011.
- Counties observed (June 2012) —Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau.
- 86.7 percent, up from 84.7 percent in 2011.
- Counties observed — Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Winona.
South Central Minnesota
- 84.7 percent, up from 73.2 percent in 2011.
- Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Nobles, Rock, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan.
- 82.5 percent, up from 81.1 percent in 2011.
- Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Swift and Yellow Medicine.
West Central Minnesota:
- 77.3 percent (first-time regional belt use survey)
- Counties observed — Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Wilkin.
Charting Minnesota Seat Belt Use Rates and Unbelted Deaths
As statewide seat belt use has increased, unbelted deaths have dropped, according to DPS:
- 1986 (the year Minnesota first passed a seat belt law): Belt compliance was 20 percent; 280 unbelted deaths.
- 2003 (10 years ago): Belt compliance was 79.4 percent; 257 unbelted deaths.
- 2008 (five years ago): Belt use was 86.7 percent; 150 unbelted deaths.
- 2011: Belt use was 92.6 percent; 120 unbelted deaths.
The regional seat belt surveys are a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths cornerstone traffic safety program. 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.