The Minnesota Seat Belt Law, as governed by Minn. Stat. § 169.686, requires all drivers and passengers of motor vehicles, commercial vehicles, and other qualified vehicles to wear shoulder restraints and lap belts at all times during operation, setting aside only a few narrow exceptions. This includes passengers in the back seat.
The State of Minnesota, in effort to further incentivize the habitual use of seat belts, considers a violation of the Minnesota Seat Belt Law to be a “primary offense.” This classification allows a patrolling officer to initiate a traffic stop and issue a ticket based solely upon violation of the seat belt regulations.
The Office of Traffic Safety, a subdivision of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, recently published the results of its statistical analysis regarding the importance of seat belt use in car accidents. A few highlights from the study include:
- “Only three (10 percent) of the 30 back-seat passengers ages 13–24 killed during 2008–2010 were buckled up. Front-seat occupants in this age group are four-to-five times more likely to be belted than those in the back.”
- “Each year, more than half of the motorists killed in Minnesota crashes aren’t belted — translating to more than 150 deaths and 400 serious injuries annually. Eighty percent of the unbelted deaths occur on Greater Minnesota roads.”
- “In a crash, unbelted motorists will often slam into and injure or kill others in the vehicle.”
- “Airbags are designed to work with seat belts to keep vehicle occupants in a safe position during a crash — airbags are not effective when the motorist is not belted.”
- “Wear lap belts low and snug across the hips; shoulder straps should never be tucked under an arm or behind the back — not only is this unsafe, it is illegal.”
More information regarding this study can be found on the Minnesota Office of Communications and on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety websites.