Celebrating Ten Years of “Buckle Up for Meghan” and Minnesota’s Seat belt Law

On a pleasant Minnesota spring day back in 1999, Kathy Cooper was driving with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Meghan toward Rochester. The pair’s drive was taking place so Meghan could purchase items she needed to prepare for her prom. When Kathy realized that Meghan hadn’t buckled in her seat belt, she immediately exited Highway 56 and pulled over to park. Kathy then told Meghan to buckle up her seat belt. While speaking to her mom, Meghan objected, telling her mom that she was dumb about using a seat belt because buckling up back then was not the law. However, Meghan eventually gave in and buckled herself in.

Meghan’s Story

Back in 1999, Meghan was actually the correct one of the two women because Minnesota had no seat belt law. Without any reason to wear one because there was no law to break at the time, Meghan often went without her seat belt. Like many teenagers, she assumed she was invincible against anything in her life. She usually trusted the idea that the people she was driving with were safe drivers. However, just a few weeks after her drive to Rochester to purchase prom necessities with her mom, she died in a car accident. Meghan passed away on June 9, 1999 after she was thrown from a car’s back seat during a terrible car accident. At the time, she wasn’t buckled up.

Kathy’s Decade Long Campaign

After Meghan’s sad death at a very young age, her mother, Kathy, started questioning if Meghan had, in fact, been correct about the lack of a seat belt law in Minnesota. After Kathy did her research, she was shocked to discover that Minnesota had no seat belt law for individuals older than ten. Even more distressing, Kathy found out that law enforcement could not even pull over drivers if either the driver or their passengers were not buckled up and over the age of ten. Kathy felt that Meghan was encouraging her mother to solve this problem so that other young individuals didn’t die so early on in life with such shocking deaths. Since Kathy didn’t want anybody else to lose a child or suffer what she went through, she started campaigning to change the law, which took a decade of work.

The Primary Seat Belt Law Saves Lives

After campaigning for ten years, Kathy was finally heard and Minnesota’s primary seat belt law became a reality on the tenth anniversary of Meghan’s passing. In the decade since the law kicked in, the primary seat belt law has saved many lives. For instance, back in 2008, which was one year before the law kicked in, 152 people were killed because they were not wearing their seat belts during car collisions. Compared to last year’s tally, only 92 people were killed as a result of not wearing their seat belts.

Don’t Neglect Your Life: Buckle Up

Nowadays, wearing a seat belt daily is a habit for most drivers living in Minnesota. In fact, in 2018, a survey was conducted that revealed at least 92.4% of individuals in front seats were using their seat belts. However, if you are one of the small percentage of people that does not use your seat belt daily, you are putting your life up to chance. Without a seat belt, you could be thrown into the windshield or totally ejected out of the car during a collision. While many Minnesotans think that not using your seat belt is a victimless crime, that assumption is not a fact. The fact is that if you aren’t strapped into a car when either riding or driving in one, you put yourself at risk of becoming a projectile during a traffic collision. So, it’s time to stop risking your life each time you drive or ride in a car and do the simple process of buckling up.

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