The Minnesota "Toward Zero Deaths" driving safety campaign has recorded a slight gain in the usage of seat belts among people who call Northeastern Minnesota home.

In 2011, the seat belt usage rate reported by the Toward Zero Deaths/Click It or Ticket campaign was 80.3% for Northeastern Minnesota, including the Duluth area. This year's study, which ended on October 26, showed a usage rate two tenths of a point higher, at 80.5%.

Usage ratings for the various regions of Minnesota fall as follows:

  • Southeast Minnesota - 86.7% - Counties observed — Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Winona
  • East Central Minnesota - 85.1% - Counties observed — Benton, Cass, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wright
  • South Central Minnesota - 84.7% - Counties observed - Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Nobles, Rock, Sibley, Waseca and Watonwan
  • Southwest Minnesota - 82.5% - Counties Observed - Big Stone, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Swift and Yellow Medicine
  • Northeast Minnesota - 80.5% - Counties observed — Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine, St. Louis
  • West Central Minnesota - 77.3% - Counties observed — Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Mahnomen, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Wilkin
  • Northwest Minnesota - 73.9% - Counties observed — Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau

Statewide campaigns to promote seat belt usage and curb driving deaths have been successful, showing the following results according to the Toward Zero Deaths group:

  • 1986 (the year Minnesota first passed a seat belt law): Belt compliance was 20 percent; 280 unbelted deaths.
  • 2003 (10 years ago): Belt compliance was 79.4 percent; 257 unbelted deaths.
  • 2008 (five years ago): Belt use was 86.7 percent; 150 unbelted deaths.
  • 2011: Belt use was 92.6 percent; 120 unbelted deaths.