Monday, October 19, 2009

Seatbelt Enforcement Campaign in MN

So, a few of us sitting in the back seat of a car going into downtown Minneapolis on Saturday night.  We pull up to a stop light, which we all noticed a utility van parked just a few yards away with a guy in an orange suit.  He comes up next to the car and shines a light into the back seat, then proceeds to the front drivers window and taps on the glass.

At first, my friend wasn't going to pull down the window for this crazy freak, but then he unzipped his orange suit and showed his MN State Trooper uniform/badge and informed the driver to pull up to the squadron of cars up ahead that were already pulled over.  Of course, we asked why, and he said that "none of your back seat passengers are wearing seatbelts".

So, we pulled ahead and saw a line of cars that were pulled over, including a limo, that were being cited for one of MN states new laws that was put into effect back in June.  The primary law requires passengers in all seating positions — including the back seat — to be buckled up. 

Only those of us in the back seat were asked for our IDs, and were given citations for not wearing our seat belts.  Both the driver and front passenger were not asked for their IDs, yet, the driver was given a stiff warning about making sure everyone was wearing their belts.

It was a total sting operation, especially when the first guy was posing as a utility worker at a stop light.  The tickets can run anywhere from $25 to $115 depending on your record.  I was just curious if people who ride in buses are required to wear seat belts since it's a moving vehicle as well.  What about the light rail train that is transporting passengers from one point to another, yet, there are no seat belts in the seats.

It sucks, but I can understand the point.  During 2006–2008, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports 1,097 motorists were killed in crashes — 539 were unbelted — and another 1,152 unbelted motorists were seriously injured. In Hennepin County (where we were cited), 102 motorists were killed — 40 were not belted — and another 114 unbelted motorists were seriously injured.

I don't remember seeing this law in the news that it was going into effect, or even remember voting for it on last years ballot.  I guess now, anytime that I ride in a moving vehicle, I'm going to click it!

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