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Minnesota passes safety belt law

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty on Thursday signed the Kathryn Swanson Seat Belt Safety Act, in honor of the former state highway safety director. The new law takes effect on June 9th.

Under the new law, vehicle drivers and passengers who don't wear a seat belt can be pulled over by police and cited for the violation. Previously, Minnesota law only allowed motorists to be ticketed if it was in conjunction with another driving offense.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) estimates that this new law will save up to 30 additional lives and prevent 400 injuries annually. DPS estimates it will result in a savings of $11 million in hospital charges the first year after passage.

Reducing traffic injuries and fatalities through use of safety belts could also help drivers in the state save on their auto insurance premiums.

Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), said Minnesota has become the 29th state to enact a primary seat belt law.

"GHSA commends the Minnesota legislature, Governor Pawlenty, the state highway safety office and advocates across the state for making Kathy Swanson's dream a reality," Betkey said.

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