Not everyone buckles up when they get into their vehicle and you know who you are.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office (DPS) of Traffic Safety reports that Minnesota has a record high of people wearing their seat belts at 94.8 percent, but Sgt. Curt Mowers of the Minnesota State Patrol would like to see that number at 100 percent.
“Each year more than half of the motorists killed in crashes aren’t belted,” said Mowers. “This translates to more than 150 deaths and more than 400 serious injuries annually.
“The one thing we know is there are a lot of people being saved by the belt, but there still are people who don’t wear them. There are a lot of myths and misunderstanding where people don’t believe in seat belts and think they can kill them and that is not true. I have never seen a seat belt kill someone. If they were killed it was because the belt was not put on right.”
Mowers said people also think that if they are driving in city limits that they don’t need to put their seat belts on because they are not driving as fast so it is not as dangerous.
“I have seen people who have been seriously injured in a crash in cities,” said Mowers.
Mowers said a vast majority of those killed on Minnesota roads involve incidents where the motorist was drinking and driving, not thinking about safety, and not putting on their seat belt. Most of these crashes occur at night.
Tom Nixon, the Central Minnesota Toward Zero Death program coordinator through the DPS, said unbelted motorists often times also say that it is their choice if they want to wear their seat belts. Nixon said it is not a choice, it is the law.
Drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers — including those in the back. A seat belt violation can cost more than $100.
Nixon said people also say that they don’t wear their seat belts because it doesn’t harm anyone else or have an economic cost to society. Nixon said that is not true. Minnesota taxpayers pay a high cost for people who don’t wear their seat belts and who were then seriously injured in crashes, and ones who end up in a nursing home or other care facility.
Nixon said people also have to remember that if they decide not to wear a seat belt and they get into a crash that their body could be thrown around in the vehicle and cause harm to others if they are in the vehicle, or even kill them.
Mowers said in rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle and in most cases, the vehicle will roll over them. In less severe crashes, an unbelted motorist will crack teeth out on the steering wheel or break their nose, and even slam into and injure others in the vehicle.