Minnesota law enforcement goes after the unbelted

The Click It or Ticket campaign is aimed to combat vehicle fatalities on Minnesota roads.

by Anissa Stocks

Minnesota law enforcement began cracking down on unbuckled drivers and passengers Oct. 9 as part of MinnesotaâÄôs first Click It or Ticket campaign following the passage of a stricter seat belt law . Since the enactment of the primary seat belt law in June, enforcement agents have been able to pull a vehicle over solely because of a suspected seat belt violation, said Lt. Matt Langer, state patrol spokesman. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety found 90 percent of motorists were buckled up during a two-week survey in August. âÄúThatâÄôs a 3 percent increase from last year,âÄù Langer said. âÄúThe campaign numbers havenâÄôt come in yet, but weâÄôre hopeful that the number of motorists who are wearing seat belts has risen even more [since August].âÄù OctoberâÄôs Click It or Ticket targets all those riding in vehicles: drivers, passengers and even children. The campaign is MinnesotaâÄôs first state-wide effort since the seat belt law was enacted. âÄúPeople who are 15 years old or older will be responsible for paying a fine,âÄù Langer said. âÄúBut anyone who isnâÄôt wearing a belt will be ticketed.âÄù Each violation includes a $25 fine and local administrative fees, which drive the cost to more than $100. âÄúWeâÄôre interested in the safety and security of Minnesotans,âÄù Langer said. âÄúThat means wearing seat belts whenever someone is in a vehicle.âÄù The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said it issued 146 seat belt citations in a similar seat belt enforcement effort in May. âÄúThe department wants people to wear their seat belts. ThatâÄôs the bottom line,âÄù Langer said. âÄúWeâÄôre not interested in writing tickets.âÄù âÄúThe campaign has been twofold: it has increased voluntary compliance and has allowed law enforcement to crack down on seat belt violation,âÄù Langer said. Thirty states, Washington, D.C., and five territories have enacted primary seat belt laws. After more than a decade of legislative pursuits toward an enactment of a state-wide primary seat belt law, Minnesota joined an increasing number of states that deem the law as âÄúnecessary.âÄù Sen. Mee Moua , DFL-St. Paul, said the primary seat belt law and the Click It or Ticket campaign are the result of a long political process. âÄúWeâÄôve been fighting for years, and each year that passed saw more lawmakers siding with the implementation of a law such as this,âÄù Moua, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said. âÄúEven if we save one life, I know that it was necessary to pass the law. âÄúOur end product is intended to save lives. It is our responsibility to protect public safety.âÄù Minneapolis police Sgt. Marv Schumer said there have been 85 issued citations for seat belt violations in Minneapolis since Oct. 5. âÄúIn Minneapolis, itâÄôs an important reminder that this campaign is important,âÄù he said. âÄúWearing a seat belt should be second nature. It takes a few seconds to put on and it can save lives.âÄù Sen. Kenneth Kelash , DFL-Minneapolis, another member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he believes the campaign is not intended to be punitive, but rather to serve as a basis for the promotion of safety and health of Minnesotans. âÄúThe campaign and law are there to help Minnesotans,âÄù he said. âÄúThat doesnâÄôt mean each campaign or the primary seat belt law will stop vehicles from crashing into each other âĦ the severity of injuries sustained will reduce [because of the primary seat belt law].âÄù