Not wearing a seat belt and traveling in rural areas in Minnesota can be deceptively deadly, despite less traffic and more open roads. In 2019, 77 percent of the unbelted traffic deaths in the state occurred in Greater Minnesota.

Whether cruising along country roads or navigating busy city streets, seat belts can save lives and reduce serious injuries in a crash. That is why more than 300 agencies will be enforcing the seat belt law and reminding motorists to drive smart during the Click It or Ticket campaign Sept. 18-30. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the statewide campaign and the funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Most Minnesotans are buckling up and that’s so encouraging,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “What’s very discouraging and sad is the tremendous amount of heartache and pain over lives lost in unbelted crashes. It’s so preventable. Education and enforcement help, but they’re not enough. We really need each Minnesotan to take a long look at what’s most important in their lives and drive smart to stay alive.”

You Never Get Over Ejection

Most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up. According to the 2019 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 93.4 percent of front seat occupants are wearing their seat belts. The rest are gambling with their lives and the lives of others in the vehicle by riding unbelted.

Bad decisions contribute to life-changing outcomes

  • In 2019, 73 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads.
  • Adults must take the time to correctly use child restraints, teach children the value of buckling up and model seat belt use. From 2015 – 2019:
    • 17 children (ages 0-7) were killed in motor vehicles
    • Seven of the victims were properly secured, six were not properly restrained, and restraint use was unknown in four fatalities.
    • Of the 87 children (ages 0-7) seriously injured in motor vehicles, 53 percent were known to be properly secured.

Good decisions are a lifesaver

  • In crashes from 2015 – 2019, of the 17,055 children ages 0-7 that were properly restrained, 87 percent were not injured while another 10 percent sustained only possible injuries.
  • In 1987, 4,176 vehicle occupants suffered severe injuries in traffic crashes. That number dropped to 1,052 in 2019.

Save Face. Buckle Up. Drive Smart.

An unbelted motorist can crash into a windshield, be thrown into other passengers or ejected from the vehicle and killed.

Drivers are in charge of their vehicles and the safety of their passengers. They can refuse to start the car until every passenger is belted. Passengers can also speak up if the driver is endangering everyone in the vehicle by not buckling up.

The Law is for Safety

Minnesota law states that drivers and passengers in all seating positions must wear seat belts or be in the correct child restraint. Officers will ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Occupants must correctly wear seat belts low and snug across the hips, and they should never tuck straps under an arm or behind the back.

Minnesota Child Car Seat Law and Steps

  • In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.
  • Rear-facing seats – All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they have reached the height and weight limits allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Forward-facing seats with harness – Toddlers and preschoolers who have reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing car seat should use a forward-facing seat with harness until they reach the weight limit of the harness allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Booster seats – School-age children who have reached the height and weight limits of the forward-facing seat can sit on a booster seat. It must be used with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • Seat belts – Children 8 years old or have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall can buckle up with seat belts. Your child is ready for an adult seat belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor.