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Minnesota sees spike in unbelted motorists dying in crashes

This news story was published on January 18, 2012.
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Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, Minneapolis –

An overwhelming majority of traffic deaths on Minnesota roads in the past six weeks or so have involved vehicle occupants who were not wearing their seat belts, state safety officials said Wednesday.

Less than three weeks into 2012, eight of Minnesota’s first 10 traffic fatality victims were not buckled up, according to preliminary reports from the state’s Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

That follows a December when 23 occupants were killed, with only five (21.7 percent) known to be buckled up.

Of the 932 vehicle occupants killed in 2008-10, the state says 45 percent were found to be properly belted.

“These 1/8unbelted3/8 crash victims are reasons every Minnesotan must remind loved ones to buckle up,” says State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske.

State safety officials say that properly wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death to front-seat passengers by 45 percent in a car and 60 percent in a light truck.

The deadly trend of late comes even though a record number of Minnesotans (93 percent) are buckling up, according to the state’s latest data.

In Minnesota, drivers and passengers in every seat must be belted. Law enforcement will ticket unbelted drivers and passengers.

The unbelted fatalities this year all have occurred in the counties outside of the Twin Cities metro area: one each in Crow Wing, Kandiyohi, Wadena and Winona; and two each in Faribault and Goodhue. Three of the eight were teenagers.

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