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Seat belt campaign to start in Minnesota

More than 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will participate in a statewide "Safe & Sober" seat belt enforcement effort Monday through June 4.

The campaign will run over the Memorial Day weekend, the on-ramp to the summer driving season that is the deadliest time on the road.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety officials said the death of three unbelted teen-agers last weekend in a crash near Felton underscored the need for seat belts.

Last May's "Click It or Ticket" effort generated more than 10,000 seat belt citations and helped increase the state's seat belt use rate from 82 to 84 percent -- an all-time high. The Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety estimates each percentage point increase prevents five deaths.

In 2004, 461 vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in Minnesota and 239 were not buckled up. Unbelted injuries and deaths cost the state more than $267 million.

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