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Highway safety officials remind travelers: Summer months are dangerous on the road

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is a high-travel period, marking the 100 most dangerous days each year to be on or near the road.

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Peyton Backes, a Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton High School senior, goes for a spin on the Seat Belt Persuader machine with the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Program and Vision Zero North Dakota on Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Moorhead Travel Center.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Safety officials from North Dakota and Minnesota teamed up Friday, May 27, to remind drivers that the lives they save by buckling up and slowing down may be their own or those of loved ones.

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is a high-travel period, marking the 100 most dangerous days each year to be on or near the road.

That was the message Friday at a news conference held at the Moorhead Travel Center, a rest area along Interstate 94 where representatives of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Minnesota State Patrol, West Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths program and other public safety agencies encouraged sober and buckled-up driving on the roads this summer.

In addition, area students took part in a hands-on learning demonstration where they experienced the importance of seat belts by being strapped into machines that simulated what it's like to be in a crash.

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West Central Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Regional Coordinator Katy Kressin speaks with reporters on Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Moorhead Travel Center.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

According to Minnesota safety officials, preliminary counts indicate 108 motorists who were not wearing seat belts died on Minnesota roads in 2021, which was up three from 2020, when 105 died.

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Both years were particularly deadly for motorists, as there were 73 unrestrained deaths on Minnesota roads in 2019, officials said, adding that the 108 unrestrained deaths in 2021 were the most since 2014.

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Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer Sgt. Jesse Grabow talks about how to travel safely this summer on Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Moorhead Travel Center.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Statistics from North Dakota show that 37 motorists who were not wearing seat belts died on North Dakota roads in 2021, down from 41 unrestrained fatalities in 2020.

As of May 20, 61% of motor vehicle fatalities in North Dakota in 2022 involved people who were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Safety efforts by law enforcement agencies this summer will include a "Click It or Ticket" campaign on both sides of the Red River, which runs from May 23 to June 5 and focuses on enforcing seat belt laws and promoting safety education.

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North Dakota Highway Patrol SE Region Commander Captain Bryan Niewind talks about keeping people safe on the roads during the summer months on Friday, May 27, 2022, at the Moorhead Travel Center.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Peyton Backes, who just completed her junior year at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton High School, was among the students who took part in the safety demonstrations Friday by getting strapped into a machine that simulated what it would be like to be in a vehicle rollover.

She said the experience reinforced for her the wisdom of buckling up every time she gets in a vehicle.

Given the forces the machine exerted, Backes said it was clear to her that not using a seat belt would almost guarantee that in a crash an individual will go through a window or end up "flat on your face."

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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