- Kristin Kammueller
Community Relations Coordinator
- Kristine Hernandez
TZD Coordinator/ Public Affairs Team Leader
MnDOT District 6
2900 48th Street
Rochester, MN 55901
Southeastern Minnesota Motorists buckle up 86.7 percent, survey says
Seat belt use rate rises two percent; survey provides snap-shot of area motorist buckle up-rate
ROCHESTER — Southeastern Minnesota’s new regional seat belt compliance rate is 86.7 percent, reflecting a two percent increase— last year’s belt use rate was 84.7 percent.
Southeastern Minnesota region has shown a 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 April and data were collected in 11 counties.
“Seatbelt use is historically lower in rural areas compared to the Twin Cities, and therefore, rural areas see more unbelted deaths,” says Kristine Hernandez, southeastern Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths coordinator. “We have seen a significant change in belt use in southeastern Minnesota since 2006 when we first conducted this survey in our region. At that time, belt use was at 69.4 percent.”
“It is important we continue to educate area motorists about the importance of buckling up, every trip, every time as wearing a seatbelt is best defense in a crash,” she says. “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.
- Counties observed - 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.
- Counties observed - 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.