WILLMAR - The visual impact of a car rolling and a person being tossed around inside a vehicle before flying out the window and landing on the hard pavement was on display Saturday before the Stingers' baseball game in Willmar.
The Kandiyohi County Traffic Education and Safety Team brought a life-sized mechanical spinning car to the ballpark during a special Emergency Medical Services event to help deliver the message that buckling up can save lives.
In there car there were two foam dummies - one was buckled up and the other wasn't.
The demonstration shows people "what it's like inside a vehicle when you're not buckled up," said Stephanie Felt, coordinator of the county program.
"Whoever isn't buckled inside a vehicle becomes a projectile and begins hitting other passengers," she said.
The simulator is owned by the Southwest Emergency Medical Services Corporation, an 18-county organization that provides training, education and support services to first responders and ambulance services in the region.
Felt and Jim Kroona, an emergency medical technician with the Willmar Ambulance Service and Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad, have used the simulator at schools and other community events to help drive home the message about seat belt safety.
The "dramatic visualization" carries a more powerful message that just telling people they should wear seat belts, Felt said.
That message is needed in rural Minnesota.
Felt said Minnesota is "making great strides to increase seat belt use, but southwest Minnesota is lagging a little behind so we want everyone to be part of the team and buckle up and stay safe," she said.
The next time the simulator will be used in Kandiyohi County is in late August during the "welcome day" for students at Ridgewater College in Willmar.
Along with the risks of not buckling up, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said this week that 2018 speed-related crashes were higher than they had been in a decade.
Last year 113 people were killed on Minnesota roads in speed-related crashes. In 2017 there were 88 deaths.
Law enforcement in the state will be working overtime shifts June 18 through July 21 in a special campaign to curb speeding.
The Department of Public Safety also reminds motorists that the hands-free law takes effect next month. Starting Aug. 1, law enforcement can pull drivers over if they see anyone holding a phone while driving.