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Letter: Buckle up and prevent another needless death

To the Editor:

Chances are you have noticed extra law enforcement on our roads and “Click It or Ticket” messages on TV and radio. The effort and the messages certainly raise awareness about seatbelts and their use, but there is a deeper reason for the campaign. Quite simply, there are far too many preventable fatalities and life-altering injuries occurring on Minnesota roads.

In the past five years alone, 587 people died and 9,739 were injured as a result of not wearing seat belts – that’s more than 41 percent of all motor vehicle occupant fatalities.

In my 32 years in law enforcement, I heard the excuses:

•“Not buckling up only affects me.”

Unfortunately, an unbelted motorist can be tossed around the vehicle, striking others. An unbelted driver can fly out of reach of the steering wheel and lose control of the vehicle. Crashes, deaths and injuries attributed to unbelted motorists cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

•“I’m a safe driver.”

You may be, but what about other drivers who share the road with you? A seatbelt keeps you in the vehicle’s designed protective space and allows for deployed air bags to work properly.

•“I don’t need to buckle up in the back seat.”

Not true. Minnesota law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions to be buckled up or in the correct child restraint.

Behind every statistic is a person. And every single person who has died on our roads has left behind loved ones. This is why we are committed to doing all we can to prevent needless deaths on our roadways.

Buckle up – it’s the law and it’s your best defense in case of a crash.

Mona Dohman

St. Paul

Mona Dohman is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.