Minnesota Department of Transportation

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News Release

May 22, 2017

Houston County Teens Receive Traffic Safety Champion Award

Local teens and regional Toward Zero Deaths partners encourage community members to speak up for their safety and the safety of their peers.

Brownville, Minn – Houston County Sheriff Mark Inglett presented three local teens with a Traffic Safety Champion Award for Outstanding Teen Leadership on Monday at a regional Toward Zero Deaths news conference at the Wild Park and Landing near Brownsville.

La Crescent High School Seniors Isaiah Schick, Sid Olson and Kaleb Peterson, recently produced a short video urging teens to speak up for their own safety and the safety of their peers. Link to video: https://youtu.be/ao-BOuMJEm4

“The teens being recognized here today are helping to raise awareness by not only encouraging their peers to make good choices behind the wheel, but to speak up when they see unsafe driving behavior”, said Sheriff Inglett. “Their efforts are making a difference in our community by saving lives.”

Extra Seat Belt Enforcement

As Minnesotans plan their Memorial Day weekend fun, more than 300 law enforcement agencies will be participating in the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign.  The campaign that runs through June 4 is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS).

“Too many times, we see the violent results of crashes when motorists choose not to buckle up”, said Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol. “This is why enforcing seat belt use is necessary to save lives.”

The Good News and Bad News

Fortunately, most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up.

  • According to the 2016 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 93 percent of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts.
  • Severe injuries are also going down. In 1987, there were 4,176 vehicle occupants who suffered severe injuries in traffic crashes. That number dropped to 745 in 2015.

For those choosing not to buckle up, the results are tragically hurting families across Minnesota.

  • In 2016, preliminary numbers show 79 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads.
  • In 2015, 87 percent of the unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota (outside the seven-county Metro area).

Speak Up about Buckling Up

An unbelted motorist can crash into a windshield and get thrown into other passengers. Often times, an unbelted occupant is ejected from the vehicle and killed.

Drivers are in charge of their vehicles and of the safety of their passengers. They can refuse to start the car until every passenger is belted. Passengers can also speak up if the driver is endangering everyone in the vehicle by not buckling up.

The Law is for Safety

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in every seat must 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, and shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

Toward Zero Deaths

The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement and education is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) 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.