Minnesotans must have gotten the message about the state's "Click It or Ticket" seatbelt enforcement campaign last month.
According to a Department of Public Safety (DPS) news release, law enforcement officers around Minnesota tallied 5,550 citations for seat belt violations throughout the crackdown, which ran from Oct. 9 - 25.
Sure, that's a lot of people, but DPS says it's actually a good sign, as that number is down significantly from last October's "Click It" campaign, during which officers cited nearly 8,200 unbuckled motorists.
Furthermore, last month's enforcement drive saw the lowest number of seatbelt citations since 2010.
Where child seat violations were concerned, the DPS says officers handed out 128 tickets – down from 219 last year.
A good start, but still work to be done
Interestingly, while the Minnesota State Patrol issued the most citations during the campaign (2,032, not surprising as they cover all of Minnesota's highways), the law enforcement agency with the second highest number of seatbelt citations was the St. Paul Police Department, which wrote 204 such tickets.
That's out of the 320 agencies that participated in the enforcement campaign.
“With 94 percent seat belt compliance for front seat occupants, we know lives are being saved,” DPS officials said in the release, calling the decrease of citations a "step in the right direction."
But, they added, "half of Minnesota road deaths (are) attributed to unbelted motorists," and said too many people are still "gambling with their lives by not buckling up.”
With the announcement of the October enforcement results came the story of 17-year-old Kianna Stewart of Red Wing, whose vehicle rolled several times after she nodded off at the wheel in August.
In a DPS video about the accident, titled "Saved By the Belt: A Teen's Survival Story," Stewart says she might not be alive to tell her story had she not been buckled in when the crash occurred.
Watch it here: