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Paynesville Press - November 08, 2006

State patrol, county report
on Safe & Sober campaign

Minnesota State Troopers cited 109 unbelted motorists in central Minnesota during the statewide Safe & Sober seatbelt enforcement campaign from Saturday, Oct. 21, to Monday, Oct. 30.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office - along with participating police departments, including Paynesville - stopped 329 vehicles during this campaign, issued 84 seatbelt violations, 61 speeding citations, two DWI arrests, two child-seat citations, two warrant arrests, six driving after license revocation arrests, one minor consumption, one underage drinking and driving arrest, and 209 warnings.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety coordinated the efforts of more than 400 agencies to increase seatbelt use.

"There is an obvious correlation between injury severity and seatbelt use," said Lieutenant Sean Meagher of the Minnesota State Patrol. "We are dedicated to enforcing seatbelt use and to driving Minnesota toward zero deaths."

A seatbelt citation costs $25, but can increase to as much as $115 with court costs and added fees.

As in previous seatbelt saturations, many violators said that they simply forgot to put their seatbelt on. "Please, try to make it a habit," said Meagher.

The enforcement campaign is a component of the state's Toward Zero Deaths initiative, a multi-agency partnership led by the departments of public safety, transportation, and health. The Toward Zero Deaths initiative is tailored to encourage local traffic safety stakeholders to address traffic issues with a focus on education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency trauma care response.

The Minnesota State Patrol made a special focus during the effort to educate teenagers - a group overly represented in unbelted fatal crashes - to buckle up while traveling in a motor vehicle. "Many teenagers are not regular seatbelt wearers," said Meagher. "We need teachers, parents, siblings, and friends to help this young group understand the importance of buckling up."

Stearns County received a 2006 Star Award from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety for coordinating the Safe and Sober program.

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