Buckle Up for a Buck

Published in News Author: Carris Health

Kandiyohi County, Minn. – Local law enforcement and emergency medical service staff are paying people to buckle up!

In an awareness campaign to remind motorists that seat belts save lives, local responders are handing out dollar bills to people arriving at the local drive-through restaurants who are wearing their seatbelts.  The Kandiyohi County Traffic Education & Safety Team (KCTEST) is coordinating the “Buckle Up for a Buck” event with donated funds.

“The key message is here is that seat belts save lives,” said Stephanie Felt, KCTEST Coordinator.  “Properly wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45% in a car and 60% in a light truck. Southwest Minnesota has the lowest seat belt compliance rate in the state at only 80%.  Other regions are at 90%.  We’re trying to change that – one vehicle at a time.”

Willmar Police, Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, and Willmar Ambulance Service staff are using this positive interaction to help spread the safety message by handing out seatbelt information in addition to the one dollar bills. Local participating restaurants include Arby’s, Burger King (both Willmar locations) Culvers, Hardee’s and Taco Bell in Willmar as well as A&W Country Stop in New London. Many gave additional coupons for the responders to hand out.

According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, if you have a collision at 25 mph, and you aren’t wearing your seatbelt, it’s like falling from a 2-story building.  At 40 mph it’s like falling from a 6-story building and at 60 mph, it’s like falling from a 12-story building.

More than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in a statewide Click It or Ticket campaign. Locally, agencies participating in the extra enforcement effort include; Willmar Police Department, Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office, Atwater Police Department, Benson Police Department, and Swift County Sheriff’s Office.  The Buckle Up for a Buck project helps support that enforcement message.

“Whether it’s unbuckling to reach down for something or not buckling because you are just a few blocks away from your destination, it only takes one time for tragedy to strike,”  said Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog. “You significantly increase your chances of surviving a crash if you buckle up every time you get in the vehicle.”

“Hopefully getting a dollar and having a good interaction with law enforcement and EMS will spark conversation with friends and family,” stated Felt.  “Half of the people who die or are seriously injured on our roads aren’t wearing their seatbelts.  It can make the difference between tragedy and being able to walk away from a crash.”

Not Buckling Up is a Dangerous Decision – Statistics from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety

From 2013-2015 Kandiyohi County saw 20 vehicle occupant deaths and nine of those were unbelted. Four out of five unbelted deaths are in rural Minnesota.

Speak Up about Buckling Up

Drivers should not start the engine until every passenger in the car is belted. If a passenger sees the driver unbelted, they should speak up and make sure the driver’s seat belt is secure.

Every Seat, Every Time

Minnesota law requires all motorists to buckle up or be seated in the correct child restraint. Officers will stop and ticket unbelted drivers or passengers. Seat belts must be worn correctly — low and snug across the hips or thighs, and shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back.

The Kandiyohi County Traffic Education & Safety Team is a partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.