Toward Zero Deaths reminds teens to buckle up

Isanti County Toward Zero Deaths
Guest Article

Isanti County Toward Zero Deaths Coalition is stressing to Isanti County teenagers to buckle up and focus on driving to prevent a similar rash of teen deaths that occurred in April 2010 when 12 people ages 12–23 were killed in crashes within four days. Six deaths occurred in a crash near Cambridge.

Toward Zero Deaths coalition members say the prom and the end of the school year have the potential to be deadly on the road.

“We want teens to live to see their future, and that begins by buckling up on every ride, and staying focused while driving,” said Coordinator Bob Bollenbeck. “Last year’s spring underscored the ongoing problem we face with our teen drivers and their passengers. We are calling on parents, teachers, coaches, and especially teens, to stress the safe driving message to keep teens safe during this high risk period.”

Inexperience, risk-taking, distractions and low seat belt use are the primary reasons traffic crashes are the leading killer of Minnesota teenagers.

Bollenbeck said it’s critical for parents to assure they know what prom activities their teens are participating in, who they’ll be riding with, and if their teen is driving.

Parents should establish clear rules that place safety as the highest priority:

Seat Belts

Teen drivers and passengers are less likely to buckle up than other age groups. In Minnesota, law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers and passengers. Drivers and all passengers must be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. A seat belt fine can be more than $100. An unbelted motorist can crash into a windshield and slam into and injure or kill other passengers. Often, an unbelted motorist is ejected from the vehicle and killed when the vehicle rolls over them.


Texting/Web Access

In Minnesota it is illegal for all drivers to read or compose texts/emails, and access the Web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, such as at a stoplight. It is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time, except to call 911.


Underage Drinking

The state’s “Not a Drop” law says drivers under age 21 cited for any amount of alcohol use will lose their license from 30 to 180 days, and face up to a $700 fine and 90 days in jail. Minors will lose their license until age 18 when arrested for DWI or involved in an impaired driving crash or crime.

Adults who provide alcohol to minors can be held responsible and suffer serious criminal, legal, and financial consequences including: felony charges and prison time in the case of death; civil liability charges in the case of injury, property damage or death; and increased insurance rates

Adding to the relevance of the underage drinking issue is many Minnesota cities and counties have implemented social host ordinances, which make it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place. As a misdemeanor, any host found criminally responsible of violating the social host ordinance will face a penalty of time in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Isanti County has a social host ordinance in place.