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Large drop in seat belt violations as Minnesotans buckle up

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It seems like Minnesotans are getting the message about wearing their seat belts when driving, with results from a two-week police crackdown showing a significant drop in violations.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety revealed Wednesday its "Click it or Ticket" campaign that ran from Memorial Day weekend through the end of May saw 7,393 motorists cited for not buckling up.

This represents a drop of 32 percent from the 10,874 citations handed out during the 2014 campaign, which in itself was significantly less than the number handed out a few years earlier in 2012, when there were 12,639 violations.

More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state took part in the campaign, and while numbers of violations are falling, the DPS says there is still much work to do – for example in one case, a driver was ticketed twice on the same day in different vehicles for not wearing their belt.

"We are encouraged by the increased number of motorists making the right choice by buckling up," said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director.

"However, with nearly 7,400 people still failing to wear their seat belts, we ask drivers and passengers to speak up about buckling up if somebody is unbelted in their vehicle. Unbelted motorists not only risk their own lives, but put the lives of others in danger as well."

Child seat violations fall 37 percent

There was a fall in the number of drivers cited for child seat violations during last month's operation – with 175 tickets handed out because children weren't in the proper restraints.

The DPS said that of 22 children up to the age of seven killed in traffic crashed between 2010 and 2014 in Minnesota, only 55 percent were properly restrained.

Enforcing seat belt law is seen as an effective way of cutting down the number of fatal crashes. The DPS said 30 people who died on Minnesota roads between January and May were not wearing seat belts, with 10 in April alone.

A study carried out in January meanwhile found that one in six Minnesota motorists are considered "high risk" on the roads, either because they drink and drive or regularly violate road laws by not wearing their seat belts, texting while driving, or driving at more than 10 mph over the speed limit.

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