A recent seat-belt enforcement effort --- the first under a new state seat-belt law --- handed motorists 10,081 citations, the state Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
A new law that went into effect in June allows law enforcement officials to pull over motorists just for not wearing their seat belts. Previously, the driver had to be stopped for something else before getting a seat-belt citation.
About 400 law enforcement agencies across the state participated in the heightened enforcement Oct. 9-22. The number of citations during the period might increase as more agencies submit their results.
Department of Public Safety officials said they believe the new law has helped reduce the number of traffic deaths in Minnesota.
Last year at this time there were 370 deaths, compared to 340 this year. Officials said about half of all people who die in Minnesota traffic accidents aren't wearing seat belts.
Based on a survey in August in which more than 11,000 motorists were observed, the state has a 90 percent seat-belt compliance rate, officials said. Last year's rate was 87 percent.