Rural Minnesota has the largest percentage of unbelted traffic deaths, according to government data released Thursday as a part of a seat belt enforcement campaign.
Four central Minnesota counties had the highest percentage. The region includes Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, and Todd counties.
In the four-county area, about 76 percent of vehicle occupants who died in traffic accidents were not wearing seat belts.
Other areas with high percentages of unbelted traffic deaths include Faribault, Cass, Wright, and Beltrami counties.
The Twin Cities metro area has lower rates of unbelted traffic deaths. In Hennepin County, 39 percent of vehicle occupants were not wearing a seat belt when they died. In Ramsey County, about 51 percent of traffic deaths were unbelted.
Statewide, more than half of traffic deaths are unbelted. From 2006 to 2008, 1,097 vehicle occupants died in crashes, and 539 were not buckled up.