Other Opinion: Don't let one slip-up cause lifelong regret


Don’t let there be an empty chair at your family’s table during the holidays.

And this time, we’re not talking about COVID-19. We’re talking about making the dangerous choice to not use your seat belt.

As part of a “Drive Smart and Buckle Up” campaign, extra seat belt enforcement will hit the streets from Nov. 16 through Nov. 29. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is participating in the crackdown as part of the Toward Zero Deaths initiative. It noted that preliminary reports show that at least 34 people have died on West Central Minnesota roads in 2020. Nearly half were unbelted.

The sheriff’s department has launched an “I Buckle Up Challenge” and urges drivers to get involved by taking these steps:

  • Print out the I BUCKLE UP CHALLENGE sign. You can find it on the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

  • Write the name/s of who you buckle up for.

  • Take a photo or video with the sign.

  • Post it on social media and tag Douglas County Safe Communities TZD Coalition.

  • Caption: “I buckle up for___, who do YOU buckle up for?”

  • Tag your friends challenging them to do the #IBuckleUpChallenge.

Too many motorists are making the dangerous decision to drive or ride in a vehicle unbelted. According to the Minnesota Department of Safety, preliminary reports show 85 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1 of this year, compared with 61 at this time last year.
Those who think it’s not all that important to buckle up each and every time they get into a vehicle should let this sink in:


This year is the highest number of unbelted fatalities, 10, for 15-19-year-olds since 2013.

This year is the highest number of unbelted fatalities, 28, for 25-39-year-olds since 2012.

It’s the highest overall year-to-date unbelted fatalities since 2012.

As part of the crackdown, adults are reminded to make sure they take the time to correctly use child restraints, and teach children the value of buckling up and model seat belt use. The consequences of not doing so are real. From 2015 to 2019:, 17 children, ages 0-7, were killed in motor vehicles in Minnesota. Seven of the victims were properly secured, six were not properly restrained, and restraint use was unknown in four fatalities.

In Minnesota, all children must be in a child restraint until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, or at least age 8, whichever comes first.

Seat belt use has been lackadaisical throughout Minnesota lately. It’s time to end that trend.

“As Minnesotans, we pride ourselves on being responsible,” said Mike Hanson with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety. “But for some reason, we’re slipping back into deadly, old habits. With traffic fatalities on the rise, now is not the time to be complacent. Failing to buckle up, even one time, could lead to a lifetime of regret and heartache.”

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