ST. PAUL - In the midst of a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign running through Oct. 22, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced Minnesota counties with the highest percentage of unbelted traffic deaths based on total number of vehicle occupant deaths.
The Department of Public Safety identified specific pockets of the state with an over-representation of unbelted deaths between 2006 to 2008 - all in Greater Minnesota, where a majority of unbelted traffic deaths occur each year.
In central Minnesota, four counties combined for 45 vehicle occupant deaths of which 34 were not buckled up: Kanabec (four vehicle occupant deaths - four unbelted), Mille Lacs (16 - 13), Morrison (17 - 12) and Todd (8 - 5).
Among four north central Minnesota counties there were 52 vehicle occupant deaths and 33 were not belted (63 percent): Aitkin (8 - 5), Beltrami (12 - 8), Cass (15 - 8) and Itasca (17 - 12).
Crow Wing County was not listed.
About 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies are participating in the Oct. 9 - 22 Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement campaign - the first full-scale enforcement since the primary seat belt law became effective June 9.
Each year, more than half of Minnesota traffic deaths are unbelted. During 2006 - 2008, 1,097 vehicle occupants were killed in crashes and 539 were not buckled up.
The Department of Public Safety recently announced Minnesota motorists' daytime belt use compliance was an all-time high 90 percent based on an observation survey.
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