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Troopers hit the gridiron with buckle up message

A new Minnesota State Patrol initiative is being launched - literally - at high school football games with the goal of encouraging teens make the right play by buckling their seat belts.

Troopers will use t-shirt blasters at high school football games this season to pass an important message intended for high school students to catch: Wear your seat belt. The loud, neon-green t-shirts are emblazoned with “Everyday I’m Buckling.”

The final t-shirt launching events for the Brainerd district will be Friday, Oct. 11, at Nevis High School in Nevis during half-time, and on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Park Rapids Area High School in Park Rapids during half-time.

The events will be accompanied by stadium public address announcements as well as morning school messages that reinforce the important “buckle up” message at several schools/games in about five State Patrol districts, including the Brainerd district.

Traffic crashes are the leading killer of Minnesota teens due to inexperience, risk-taking, distractions and low seat belt compliance. In the past five years, 203 teens were killed in crashes, and of those, 165 were vehicle occupants, of which only 67 (41 percent) were belted.

Another component of the campaign is to encourage parents to understand their role in developing safer teen drivers. Parents should talk to their teen to reinforce driving laws such as always buckling up — in front and back seats — and stress that it is illegal to text and drive, including when stopped in traffic. Drivers under age 18 are also banned from any cell phone use.

Parents should also enforce passenger and nighttime driving limitations laws. Teen drivers may not have more than one passenger under age 20 during their first six months of licensure, unless accompanied by a parent.