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Lt. Duane Sall: Area businesses reward students for buckling up

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The month of May was devoted to 'Click It or Ticket' activities. National media sent buckle up messages by airing commercials on TV and radio, local businesses worked with the West Fargo Police Department to reward students for wearing their seat belts or using child restraints, and officers worked overtime shifts to enforce seat belt and child restraint laws.

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Monsanto Corporation teamed up with other West Fargo businesses including Mid Valley Partnership, SES Vanderhave, Northern Region Association of Safety Professionals and True North Steel to purchase gift cards from Stop & Go, Subway and West Fargo Dairy Queen.

During the last week of school gift cards were then handed out by West Fargo patrol officers at West Fargo High School, Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, Cheney Middle School, Westside Elementary and Eastwood Elementary, to students who were 'caught' wearing their seat belt or in their child restraint. Stop & Go, Subway and Dairy Queen also donated gift cards to the cause. A total of 810 gift cards were distributed with a dollar value of approximately $4,850.

West Fargo School Resource Officers Wiinenen and Pearson also used a rollover simulator to demonstrate the dangers of not buckling up to new drivers at the West Fargo High School and Sheyenne 9th Grade Center. On May events, approximately 850 students observed the rollover simulator in action.

May 21 thru June 3, West Fargo Police assigned extra shifts specifically for seat belt enforcement. Officers' primary duty was to find and cite motorists not wearing their seat belts.

National, state and local 'Click It or Ticket' activities aimed to remind motorists to buckle up. In 2011, 32,367 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and 52 percent of them were not wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes. In 2011, 69 percent of fatalities in North Dakota and 44.3 percent of fatalities in Minnesota were unbelted.

Younger motorists and men are particularly at risk. NHTSA data shows that among teen and young adult passenger vehicle occupants in 2011, age 18-34, who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 64 percent were not buckled up at the time of the crash - the highest percentage of any age group. The number jumps to 66 percent when just men in this age group are included. According to the North Dakota Department of Transportation, seven of ten North Dakota teens age seventeen and under that died in motor vehicle crashes in 2011 were unbelted.

Lt. Duane Sall, WF Police Department

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