Unbelted drivers contribute to increase in traffic deaths

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(ABC 6 News) -Public safety officers are speaking out and pleading with people. They’re asking the public to put on seatbelts and avoid distracted driving. The state is starting a new click it or ticket campaign After the pandemic decreased the need to drive for over a year, we’re back to normal traffic levels according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The roads are busy.

"Life gets busier again and now is the time where we really need people to put those seatbelts on and set that tone for the rest of the year," said Director Mike Hanson at the Office of Traffic Safety.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 8, 68 drivers died on Minnesota roads. They weren’t wearing their seatbelts. That’s 45 percent higher than Sept. of 2019 where 47 people died.

"Your seatbelt is your first line and your last line of defense," Hanson said.

In one third of all traffic deaths in the state of Minnesota, the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Law enforcement says many people get defensive when they’re caught unbuckled. Drivers they pull over say it’s their choice whether or not to wear a seatbelt. People don’t like being told what to do. The DPS said they want the public to think about their loved ones.

"So that some officer trooper or deputy doesn’t have to sit at the living room and explain to the parents why their 21 year old isn’t coming home anymore," Hanson said.

Young driver Brennan Burg says he buckles up because it’s against the law not to.

"It’s against the law if you don’t wear it and also you got the dinger inside of the car that makes you wear the seatbelt," Burg said.

He also buckles up for personal reasons.

"My mom actually died in a car accident when I was 6-years-old so I think it’s important for that reason," he said.

The Department of Public Safety says if law enforcement sees anyone driving without a seatbelt they will get a ticket. The "Click it or Ticket" statewide campaign ends Sept. 30.