Ask a Trooper: Increase in unbelted motorist deaths is avoidable

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Photo courtesy Minnesota State Patrol

Question: How can someone drive without a seat belt on? Doesn’t the dinging annoy them?

Answer: This is a good question as I’ve observed numerous ways some folks have tried to get around wearing their seat belt.

Around the mid-‘70s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) added a seat belt reminder signal to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The new standard required vehicles to have a seat belt reminder (SBR) system that gave an audible signal after the driver turned on the ignition and hadn’t fastened their seat belt. In 2001, Congress directed NHTSA to study the benefits of technology meant to increase seat belt use. NHTSA found that seat belt usage had increased to 73% since the initial introduction of the SBR system.

As of October 27, there have been 80 fatalities involving an unbelted motorist on Minnesota roads compared with 58 this time last year.

Unfortunately, with the benefits of technology also come the opportunities to counter the means to make a person safe. I’ve heard countless excuses why a person shouldn’t wear their seat belt. However, not one of them will save your life.


A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, ).

Minnesota State Patrol courtesy photo
Minnesota State Patrol (Courtesy photo)

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