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Insight from WFPD: Area businesses reward students for buckling up

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.

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. On May 23, 24 and 25 these gift cards were then handed out by West Fargo patrol officers at West Fargo High School, Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, Aurora Elementary, 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 750 gift cards were distributed.

West Fargo School Resource Officers Balvik and Pearson also used a rollover simulator to demonstrate the dangers of not bucking up to new drivers at the Sheyenne 9tah Grade Center. On May 23, approximately 350 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 2010, 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and 51 percent of them were NOT wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes. In 2010, 59% of fatalities in North Dakota and 41% 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 2010, age 18-34, who were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 62 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, six North Dakota teens that died in motor vehicle crashes in 2010 were unbelted. The greatest percentage of unbelted crash victims were 20-24 years old.