Officers takes a proactive approach to encourage seatbelt use

Cambridge-Isanti High School students were elated when Officer Dan Owl, Allina Paramedic Adam Harvey, and Allina EMT John Benzen told them they were receiving a free doughnut for wearing their seatbelts when arriving at school Oct. 16. Photos by Julia Parent

Cambridge-Isanti High School students were elated when Officer Dan Owl, Allina Paramedic Adam Harvey, and Allina EMT John Benzen told them they were receiving a free doughnut for wearing their seatbelts when arriving at school Oct. 16. Photos by Julia Parent

Isanti County law enforcement and emergency services personnel have recently taken additional steps to encourage seatbelt use among youthful drivers.

On Oct. 16, officers from the Cambridge and Isanti police departments, as well members from the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol and Allina Paramedics, waited at the entrances of Cambridge-Isanti High School and looked for seatbelt law compliance.

Those occupants who were wearing their seatbelt received a coupon for a free doughnut from a cop.

“We wanted to take a proactive approach to encourage and reward seatbelt usage by our young drivers and their passengers,” said Cambridge Police Chief Tim Dwyer.

Isanti Police Chief Ron Sager and Chief Deputy Chris Caulk explained the “I Got Caught/Doughnut from a Cop” local campaign started a few years ago and has been a real success. This year more than 400 coupons were given out, which officials say was very encouraging.

Unfortunately, there are still many youth and adult drivers who are not wearing their seatbelts and too many people are dying because of it. Each year in Minnesota, more than half of the teenagers killed in crashes were not buckled up. There were 102 teen vehicle occupant deaths during 2010-2012 and only 42 were belted.

Freshmen Jarod Lande (left) and Isaac Volker were two of the first 400 students to arrive at Cambridge-Isanti High School wearing their seatbelts and enjoy their doughnuts from Herman’s Bakery. A portion of the cost of the doughnuts was covered by a grant from the Toward Zero Deaths Campaign.

Freshmen Jarod Lande (left) and Isaac Volker were two of the first 400 students to arrive at Cambridge-Isanti High School wearing their seatbelts and enjoy their doughnuts from Herman’s Bakery. A portion of the cost of the doughnuts was covered by a grant from the Toward Zero Deaths Campaign.

“Teenagers are at greatest risk on the road due to their driving inexperience and their low seat belt compliance,” said Gordy Pehrson, DPS Office of Traffic Safety youth programs coordinator.

Unbelted motorists continue to represent a significant amount of Minnesota’s traffic fatalities, especially in Greater Minnesota. In the last three years on Minnesota roads (2010-2012):

• 852 motorists died in crashes, of which 361 (42 percent) were not buckled up.

• 171 (49 percent) of the 361 unbelted deaths were motorists ages 16-29.

• 302 (84 percent) of the 361 unbelted deaths occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities metro area.

“Click It or Ticket” or better yet, be that voice that encourages your friends to wear their seatbelt.

A special thank you goes out to Herman’s Bakery and Bob Bollenbeck of the East Regional Development Commission, who made this educational event possible.

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