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Paynesville Press - May 19, 2004

Police to participate in seatbelt enforcement

Motorists hitting the road at the start of the summer season should heed this warning: click it or ticket.

The Paynesville Police Depart-ment will participate in a colossal seatbelt enforcement campaign throughout Minnesota - the Safe & Sober May Mobilization - from Monday, May 24, to Sunday, June 6.

This statewide effort aims to boost seatbelt use through patrols of more than 430 law enforcement agencies and the Minnesota State Patrol. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety will coordinate the event.

In November, a similar campaign resulted in more than 7,000 seatbelt citations.

"It doesn't matter if you're driving to the corner market or across the state," said Paynesville Police Chief Kent Kortlever, "don't begin your trip until you are belted in."

In Minnesota from 1998 to 2002, 2,572 people died in traffic crashes and over half were not wearing seat belts.

During 2002, 16 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in Stearns County and 1,243 people were injured in that same year.

In 2003, the Paynesville Police Department responded to 52 motor vehicle accidents in the city of Paynesville and 34 in Paynesville Township. A recent seatbelt usage survey was conducted in the city, which showed that 73 percent of drivers were wearing their seat belt.

"If your seatbelt isn't buckled, we'll detour your route to the shoulder of the road," said Kortlever. "Buckle up. Seatbelts save lives."

The currrent state fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $88. Also, parents should remember to buckle their children, as failure to use required child safety can result in a fine of $113 for the operator of the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration aims to increase seatbelt use by calling on each state to execute this mobilization. The Safe & Sober campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and administered by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

The program is designed to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The enforcement effort will be supported by a statewide $350,000 paid media campaign.

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