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I sat through the primary seatbelt law debate that went on the last day of the 2009 legislative session. It was interesting to hear the different views on the issue. But, in the end it passed and it is now the law of Minnesota. The Police can stop you for simply not wearing your seat belt. Did it have the intended effect with the recent report that overall use of seat belts in the state are up? It couldn’t have hurt.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reported this week that 90 percent of people are now using seat belts. This is up from 87 percent in 2008. This is coupled with the report that highway deaths are also down this year. In 2009, 239 motorists have been killed on Minnesota roads as compared to 246 at this time last year. The two numbers do seem to run at least in part together. In the last five months, the number of unbelted traffic deaths dropped 10 percent compared with the same time period in 2008.

Looking closer at the numbers seat belt use is lowest among 16- to 29-year-olds, at 88.5 percent, and highest among 11- to 15-year-olds at 96 percent. Hopefully, the highest group will continue this practice for life. The state patrol and local police are working to increase the numbers by working overtime and using roadside spotters to help crack down on unbelted drivers and passengers this month.

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