MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) —  Ten years ago the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring passengers and drivers to wear seat belts. Since then, hundreds of lives have been saved each year.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety credits the efforts of one family who fought to strengthen Minnesota’s seat belt laws in the wake of their daughter’s death for making it all possible.

In 1999, 15-year-old Meghan Cooper died after being ejected in a crash from the rear seat of a car. Officials say she was not wearing a seat belt.

“After Meghan’s death, I was tormented with ‘why did this happen,’” said Meghan’s mother, Kathy Cooper. “I learned that to help prevent others from facing my heart-breaking reality, the seat belt law had to change.”

In 2009, the state’s primary seat belt law took effect in honor of Meghan.

In the year before that law passed, 152 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads. In 2018, 92 unbelted motorists died.

“My family joined with others to change the law so that every person, in every seat, must give themselves a chance to survive a crash by buckling up,” said Cooper. “From my perspective, Meghan gave her life to save so many.”

According to the 2018 Minnesota Seat Belt Survey, 92.4% of front seat occupants wear their seat belts.

On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety kicked off its annual ”Click It or Ticket’ campaign to remind motorists that seat belts and car seats will protect them in a crash.

Over 300 law enforcement agencies statewide participate in extra enforcement and education. This year, the campaign runs from May 20 through June 2.

To learn more about Minnesota’s seat belt law click here.

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