A two-week campaign saw Minnesota law enforcement agencies give out more than 1,800 citations to drivers and passengers who were failing to wear seat belts.
Between Sep. 19 and Sep. 30, 319 participating agencies gave a total of 1,805 seat belt citations and 73 child seat citations as part of the “Click it or Ticket” campaign, according to a Wednesday report from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Still, this represents a reduction on the citations handed out in recent years, with 2,664 handed out in 2020, 4,415 in 2019, and 4,610 in 2018.
But this year has seen a spike in the number of road fatalities involving unbelted motorists, which totaled 80 deaths as of Oct. 10, more than the 78 by the same date in 2020 ad 54 in 2019.
The agency with the most citations this time around was the St. Paul Police Department with 229. In greater Minnesota, the Minnesota State Patrol in Duluth and Detroit Lakes had the highest numbers of citations, with 164 and 139, respectively.
“The 1,800 seat belt violations baffles my mind. How do so many people continue to get into vehicles and fail to buckle up?” said Mike Hanson, director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, in a statement.
"By now, you should know the seat belt is your first and last line of defense when getting in a crash. It’s selfish to believe failing to buckle up only affects you.
"Think of all the people whose lives will be changed if you are killed, all because you didn’t want to take two seconds to buckle up. Drive smart and stay alive by always buckling up."
Among the citations given during the campaign was a driver pulled over by a Glencoe police officer who was arrested for a third DWI, and another who was unbelted, speeding, and texting at the same time.