Increased patrols for seat belt use beginningby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Hundreds of Minnesota law enforcement agencies began heightened seat belt patrols Monday that will last through early June.
Cheri Marti, director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety, said nighttime drivers and youthful drivers in rural Minnesota continue to have high rates of not using seat belts.
"Teens definitely wear their seatbelt lowest or less than any other drivers on the roadways, particularly young males and those in greater Minnesota," Marti said. "We know that 80 percent of the unbelted deaths occur on greater Minnesota roads."
Marti says the campaign marks one year since the state's primary seat belt law became effective, allowing law enforcement to stop and ticket motorists or passengers solely for seat belt violations.
Marti says the law has helped the state achieve a record-high 90 percent daytime seat belt compliance rate - up from 87 percent in 2008.
Marti says unbelted motorists account for more than one-half of all vehicle occupants killed each year.
Marti says technology will soon be available in more vehicles to let parents know whether young drivers in their family have been using a seat belt.
"Research has shown that getting parents involved in giving them the feedback on their teen driver behavior and the risks that the teens are taking is a tremendous role for parents to have that information and then sit down with their teen and continue to monitor and coach and even apply consequences," Marti said.
A seat belt fine is $25 but will cost more than $100 with court and administrative fees.