Extra seat belt enforcement on Minnesota roads May 23 to June 5

More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state will participate in the Click It or Ticket campaign to crack down on seatbelts Monday. The extra enforcement will run from May 23 to June 5.

The numbers are climbing – it’s estimated that about 94 percent of Minnesotans are buckling up when they are in the front seat of a vehicle, but authorities expect that backseat seat belt use is far less.

On Thursday, several Minnesota crash survivors spoke publicly about seat belts saving their lives. Some were veterans of the road, others were first-time drivers, and some were just passengers.

It was two years ago when 13-year-old Josh Kramber was riding in the passenger seat of a pick-up truck with his seat belt on. His dad was next to him behind the wheel, but didn’t buckle up.  Josh walked away from the deadly head-on collision with bumps and bruises, but his dad suffered a life-altering brain injury on Highway 55 near Maple Lake.

"It's like insurance, you never know when you need it,” Kramber said. “It's going to save your life. You never know when it will happen."

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in about 40 percent of all motor vehicle deaths, the victims were not wearing their seat belt. In 2015, that amounted to 91 lives lost on Minnesota highways and roads.

Kianna Stewart believes the only reason she walked away from her crumpled car just days before her 17th birthday is the fact that she buckled up before falling asleep behind the wheel.

"A seatbelt is a decision that could save your life. If I wasn't wearing mine, I don't think I would be here to put one on,” Stewart said.

(From Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety)

- In 2015, 91 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads.
- In the last five years (2011 – 2015), 527 unbelted motorists lost their lives and 1,035 people suffered life-changing injuries.
- Of the 1,379 motorists who lost their lives in the last five years (2011 – 2015), only 51 percent of them were known to be belted.
- In 2015, 77 percent of vehicle occupants who were ejected or partially ejected and died were not wearing a seat belt.
- The 2015 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey shows 94 percent compliance for front seat occupants.
- Severe injuries are going down — in 1987, there were 4,176 vehicle occupants who suffered severe injuries in traffic crashes. That number dropped to 745 in 2015.