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LET The costs on not buckling up

I am a deputy with the Winona County Sheriff's Department.

Some of the worst calls that I have witnessed have been to traffic crash scenes in which people weren't buckled up.

Currently, Minnesota's seat belt rate is at 74 percent -- meaning one in four vehicle occupants doesn't comply with seat belt laws that we've had for more than 15 years. And despite safety messages in our media, needless deaths and life-changing injuries among unbuckled drivers and passengers continue.

If you're fortunate, you don't know any one who has died or was seriously injured in a crash. Even then, you are affected by the results of someone not buckling up. The injuries and deaths translate into thousands of dollars in health-care costs, and ultimately, all taxpayers and insurance policy holders in Winona County bear these costs.

So please wear your seat belt, make sure that children under the age of four are in safety seats, that children under eight are in booster seats, and that children under the age of 12 are in the backseat.

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-- John Hazelton, Winona County Sheriff's Department, Winona.

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