DPS: Unbelted deaths up again in 2021; Click It or Ticket campaign starts May 23

Minnesota officials say the number of traffic deaths involving people not wearing seat belts rose for the second straight year in 2021.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety says 108 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads last year, up three from 2020 and 48% higher than 2019. Last year also saw the highest number of unbelted fatalities among 25- to 39-year-olds (38) since 2012, DPS says.

This year, through May 15, 27 unbelted fatalities have been reported.

The DPS also is reminding parents about car seat use, noting that state law requires all children to be in a car seat until they’re at least 4-foot-9, or 8 years old.

According to the DPS, 88% of the nearly 14,700 kids under 8 who were properly restrained and were involved in crashes between 2017 and 2021 weren’t injured, and another 9% suffered only minor injuries.

In order to help combat unbelted fatalities, DPS says its Click It or Ticket statewide seat belt enforcement campaign will start May 23 and run through June 5.

“When a life is lost because of no seat belt, it’s very discouraging because it so easily could’ve been prevented,” Mike Hanson, the Office of Traffic Safety director, said in a statement. “That’s it. It’s over for that person and for loved ones and friends left behind. When you’re heading out, please make the wise, caring choice to wear your seat belt and refuse to put the vehicle in drive until passengers buckle up as well. Drive smart and live.”