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Law enforcement says seat belt effort a success

WILLMAR -- A joint law enforcement effort on seat belts conducted the week of March 11 in Meeker, McLeod and Lyon counties resulted in 167 traffic stops, 16 seatbelt citations and 11 seatbelt warnings.

"Law enforcement officers are aware that failing to wear a seat belt increases the seriousness of crashes in our state and this opportunity to partner raises awareness for seat belt compliance and makes roadways safer for everyone,'' says Lt. Brian West of the Marshall office of the Minnesota State Patrol.

"When state, local and county units of government work together, all drivers on our roadways benefit,'' he said.

According to statewide data, approximately 87 percent of motor vehicle drivers and occupants use seatbelts. Of the 13 percent of unbuckled motorists, approximately 200 fatal injuries occur each year in Minnesota.

During the cooperative daytime and nighttime effort, law enforcement officers patrolled state Highway 15 in Hutchinson, U.S. Highway 12 in Dassel and state Highway 23 in Marshall to enforce seat belt use. Officers spent 91 hours on the effort. The outcome of the enforcement efforts were:

n Highway 23 in Marshall (Lyon County): 14 traffic stops, 8 seatbelt citations and 6 seatbelt warnings.

n Highway 12 in Dassel (Meeker County): 17 traffic stops and 2 seatbelt warnings.

n Highway 15 in Hutchinson (McLeod County): 136 traffic stops, 8 seatbelt citations and 3 warnings.

The cooperative effort involved sheriff offices and police departments in Meeker, McLeod and Lyon counties along with the State Patrol in St. Cloud, Marshall and Mankato.

The effort is a result of the statewide Toward Zero Deaths initiative to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on roadways through application of education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical services.