Letter: Wearing seat belts saves livesTo the Editor: The Department of Public Safety recently announced that in six of the 10 Minnesota traffic fatalities of 2008, the victim was not wearing a seat belt.
By: Steve Murphy, Red Wing , The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
The Department of Public Safety recently announced that in six of the 10 Minnesota traffic fatalities of 2008, the victim was not wearing a seat belt.
As chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I find these deaths heartbreaking. They could have so easily been preventable — wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of serious injury and death by 40 to 60 percent.
For several years, I have been attempting to pass a primary seat belt law in Minnesota, and I will continue that effort in the 2008 session.
The 25 states with such a law saw an average of an 11 percent increase in seat-belt compliance. If the statistic held true for Minnesota, we could save 40 lives and prevent 400 serious injuries per year.
Beyond the obvious life-saving benefits, requiring seat belt use would be a fiscally responsible policy for the state to enact. Having primary seat belt on the books would make the state eligible for $18 million in federal traffic-safety dollars. Additionally, the state would see a reduction in health care costs.
In Minnesota, unbelted crash victims' hospital costs are 94 percent higher than their belted counterparts.
Rarely does the opportunity to save lives with no cost and such benefits present itself as it does with primary seat belt.
I will continue to be a strong advocate for this common-sense, life-saving
legislation until it is passed.
In the meantime, please Minnesota, make the responsible choice and buckle up!
Steve Murphy, a Democrat, represents District 28.