How Strict Your State Is With Its Seat Belt Laws Could Save Your Life In A Crash


How much more convincing do people need to buckle up?

Consumer Reports latest findings on seat belt use in the United States aren't overly shocking. The gist is that wearing a seat belt can help prevent death in the event of an accident. That much is obvious to anyone with a brain. However, what's interesting is how states go about punishing drivers and passengers who don't buckle up. This level of punishment in turn influences whether or not people decide to click it. The results are kind of shocking.

Punishments are split into two categories: primary enforcement and secondary enforcement. Actually, there is a third category: no enforcement. New Hampshire doesn't have any seat belt laws on the books for adults because freedom…or something. Anyway, primary enforcement refers to an officer's ability to issue a ticket simply because a person is unbelted. Secondary enforcement allows an officer to ticket someone in a car for not being buckled up, but only if the car was stopped for another violation. In all 34 states (plus the District of Columbia) have primary enforcement laws regarding those in the front seats. Of those 34 states, 18 (and DC) have laws regarding the front and rear seats.

Research says that states going from secondary to primary enforcement cut driver deaths in accidents by about 7%. What's more is that an estimated 378,983 lives could have been saved from 1975 to 2014 if everyone involved in car crashes during that time had been buckled up. That number may seem insignificant given the length of time from 1975 to 2014 but consider the fact that all people in those crashes had to do was buckle up. It literally takes less than a second to do! Getting cut a ticket sucks but dying is just a bit worse.

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