Motorists traveling through Brainerd or Baxter may see new signage along the roadway informing them of hi-visibility traffic enforcement projects — that currently flashes “Click It or Ticket” and “Buckle Up.”
Brainerd and Baxter police departments partnered up to purchase a message/driver feedback speed display device that’s attached to a trailer that displays messages at various roadways in the two cities.
Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said, “We’re really excited to put the trailer to use, a component to the high-visibility traffic enforcement projects is to saturate roadways with as many squad cars and possible, with officers wearing hi-visibility safety vests and also to use sign and message boards to advise the public about enforcement efforts. Trends across the country are to use high visibility enforcement, combined with advertising and message boards in an effort to deter impaired driving and speeding or aggressive driving and to encourage seat belt use.”
The police departments used three funding sources to purchase the $17,000 trailer: Through a Towards Zero Death (TZD) traffic enforcement grant and Baxter and Brainerd police departments’ DWI (driving while intoxicated) forfeiture funds.
“This is something we’ve requested to purchase for years but has always been cost prohibitive,” said Exsted. “With cost sharing through this collaboration it was now possible. We are constantly looking to improve on our delivery of public safety services and we truly believe we’ve done that with this purchase.”
“We never would have been able to purchase this on our own,” said Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston. “We (Brainerd and Baxter police) work well together and we will share this messaging board that will be displayed along roadways where we see fit. At this day and age, with tighter budgets, the more shared services you can do the better.”
McQuiston and Exsted said the state-of-the-art tool offers between 200-300 programming messages and law officers may also can make their own message, which can include information about road construction, road closures and speed limit enforcement. McQuiston said it also can conduct traffic studies and speed surveys.
McQuiston said they can only police so much and the messaging board will help remind motorists about different enforcement efforts. McQuiston said the “Click It or Ticket” and “Buckle Up” messages are being displayed for the next few weeks as the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign that began Friday and will run through Oct. 26. The campaign is an effort to stop unbelted traffic deaths, of which there were 377 during the last three years in Minnesota.
The DPS reports that unbelted motorists have represented a significant amount of Minnesota’s traffic fatalities from 2009-11 with teens and young adults, and motorist in greater Minnesota, as the main victims:
• There were 878 motorist traffic deaths of which 377 (43 percent) were not buckled up.
• 80 percent of the unbelted deaths occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities’ area.
• Of the 377 unbelted deaths, 179 (48 percent) of the victims were age 30 or younger; 154 (41 percent) were ages 16–29.
• Of the 108 teen vehicle occupants (ages 13–19) killed, only 35 (32 percent) were belted.
In Minnesota, drivers and passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, are required to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Seat belts must be worn correctly, low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.
“Traffic deaths are spiking in 2012, and sadly, many of the 286 deaths this year could have been prevented if the victim had buckled up,” Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director said in a release. “Those that have died are the reasons and reminders to buckle up.”