To the editor:

I was just getting ready to write this letter to the editor when I received an email from the Southeast Minnesota Law Enforcement Liaison with this quote from Lee Iacocca:

“What … [we] seem to forget is that the damage done by not wearing seat belts raises our taxes, increases our insurance rates, and harms us and our loved ones. And if that’s not an intrusion on my freedom, I don’t know what is.” Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca, wrote this in his 1984 autobiography in a chapter on “How to Save Lives on the Road.” He called for mandatory seat belt use way back in the 70s when he was CEO of Ford. Minnesota passed its first mandatory seat belt use law in 1986. That was 33 years ago.

Then, I read an article in the Washington Post (July 21, 2019) that “More Americans have died in car crashes since 2000 than in both World Wars.”

How can that be? Cars have seat belts and airbags now and are much better designed for safety. And yet 40,000 people died on US roads in 2018. And, just last year (2018) in Minnesota alone there were 381 traffic fatalities. Of those, 96 were unbuckled – such a simple thing to do. There are already two fatalities in Rice County this year, with one unbelted.

The article went on to say 94% of crashes are human error.

As coordinator of the Rice County Safe Roads Coalition, which is part of the State-wide Toward Zero Death (TZD) campaign, we are working hard to move Rice County toward zero deaths using the 4Es:

education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical services. There is another E as well, the 5th E – EVERYONE ELSE. We need your help to always buckle up in order to save lives. We began our work in Rice County in 2006 and are seeing fatalities decrease but we are NOT at ZERO yet.

I urge you to buckle up — every time you get in the car — it might save your life but only if you use it.

And, speak up to make sure others in the car are buckled as well.

Life is good – buckle up and enjoy it.

Katherine A. Cooper


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