ST. PAUL, MN (KDAL) - For the second consecutive month, lack of seat belt use factored in a majority of Minnesota traffic deaths. In January, 13 of the 18 motorists killed were not buckled up, according to preliminary Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety crash data. In December, only five of the 23 motorists killed were belted.
“These fatalities only emphasize the point that if you don’t buckle up, you are giving up the best defense you have to stay safe in the case of a crash,” says Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Officials say the unbelted deaths are factoring for the increase in deaths compared to this time in 2011. In January 2012, there were 19 deaths compared to 11 in 2011.
Most of the January unbelted deaths occurred in Greater Minnesota counties — where belt compliance is historically low: Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Faribault (2), Goodhue, Kandiyohi, Otter Tail, Rock, St. Louis, Wadena and Winona. One unbelted fatality occurred in the Twin Cities area (Dakota County).
Four of the unbelted victims were under age 30, six were ages 30–54, and three were and 55 and older.
In Minnesota it’s the law for drivers and passengers in every seat to be belted.