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Paynesville Press - May 18, 2005

Paynesville police plan to cite unbuckled motorists

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Police Depart-ment will join more than 450 law enforcement agencies in Minnesota in the state's largest seatbelt crackdown from Monday, May 23, to Sunday, June 5.

The two-week Safe & Sober May Mobilizations is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to boost Minnesota's seatbelt usage rate and decrease traffic deaths and injuries.

While the state's seatbelt usage rate is at an all-time high of 82 percent, preliminary statistics for 2004 indicate that 240 - more than half of the 462 vehicle-occupant fatalities - were unbelted. Last year in Stearns County, 21 people died, and ten were not wearing seatbelts. The estimated economic impact of unbelted deaths in Stearns County in 2004 is $11.2 million.

Nearly three quarters of the state's traffic deaths and one half of the serious injuries occurred on rural roads in 2004, even though more than half the state's population resides in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. Last year, over half of the nearly 2,400 severe-injury crashes occurred outside the metro area.

During the two-week safety campaign, therefore, special community outreach efforts have been directed towards greater Minnesota.

"May is the 'on-ramp' to the summer months, the deadliest period on our roads," said Paynesville Police Chief Kent Kortlever. "Seatbelt enforcement is important because it emphasizes safe driving habits at this critical and often deadly time." "If you don't click your seat belt," said Kortlever, "we'll click our pens and write you a ticket."

Safe & Sober is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is designed to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries to motorists.

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