Which Law Explains Why We Need To Wear Seatbelts?

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Cars are an essential part of our fast-paced world. It helps people get to different places without the hassle of commuting. Over the decades, there have been breakthroughs in modern automotive technology, and humanity has come a long way with its innovations in vehicle safety. However, plenty of people refuse to follow certain safety guidelines – primarily the usage of seatbelts. Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, it is important to understand the importance of wearing seatbelts to ensure vehicle safety. While wearing a seatbelt may be uncomfortable for some people, there’s no denying that seatbelt usage can be a lifesaver. There are several reasons why you should wear a seatbelt in a moving vehicle. By wearing it, you will be able to secure your position in a moving car, maintain movement control, prevent physical harm, and in the case of a traffic collision, reduce the effects of the impact and the possibility of a fatal blow. Moreover, wearing a seatbelt will also help you avoid legal consequences and, at the same time, promote a culture of safety. Due to these reasons, certain laws about seat belt usage have been enacted in different states.

History of Seat Belt Legislation in the U.S. and California

In the early 1980s, when Michigan state representative David Hollister first introduced and tried to pass the seat belt bill, he faced fierce opposition. He reportedly received hate mail comparing him to notorious German dictator Adolf Hitler. Drivers and passengers found the use of seat belts to be “restraining and uncomfortable.” Big businesses – specifically car companies, on the other hand, believed that including seat belts in car designs would indicate that the car itself is unsafe, resulting in a decrease in sales. Plenty of people dreaded the idea of mandatory seat belt usage so much in the 1980s that an anti-seat belt movement emerged in response to the legislation. Numerous companies tried different strategies to convince lobby legislators to allow car designs with no seat belts. Some companies also started spreading rumors about the dangers of wearing it around your chest, claiming that in the event of an unfortunate situation, seat belt usage could keep drivers and passengers stuck in their seats, therefore leading to more harm rather than ensuring safety. However, despite the bitter battle that seat belt laws have gone through for the past years, seat belt legislation has won and continues to be enacted and mandated in all the states of the U.S., excluding New Hampshire.

Categories of Seatbelt Laws: What Applies To California?

Seat belt laws are divided into two (2) categories. Specifically, primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws authorize law enforcement officers to pull drivers over to ticket them for not wearing a seatbelt. Secondary seat belt laws, on the other hand, indicate that law enforcement officers can only issue tickets to drivers if there is another existing traffic violation. Otherwise, law enforcement cannot issue tickets for the sole reason of not wearing seat belts. With the exception of New Hampshire, in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia, seat belt usage is necessary, as stated by the law. About 35 of those states and the District of Columbia have primary enforcement laws. The other 15 states, on the other hand, have secondary enforcement laws. The specific laws governing seatbelt usage vary depending on the jurisdiction. For example, both Alabama and Connecticut have primary enforcement laws. However, in Alabama, the law applies to ages 15 and over in all seats, while in Connecticut, the law applies to ages 8 and over in all seats. California also adheres to primary enforcement laws. In the state, the law applies to both drivers and passengers in all seats. As stated in the California Vehicle Code Section 27315, anyone aged 16 and older is required to wear seat belts in a moving vehicle. This code section also requires vehicle owners to maintain safety belts properly. Moreover, children in vehicles aged 7 and under are required to be buckled in a car seat or booster seat under the child restraint laws.

Penalties for non-compliance with seatbelt laws

Failure to comply with seatbelt laws has penalties. In California, the violation of seat belt laws carries a fine of $20.00 for the first offense and $50.00 for each subsequent offense. It’s important to note that the mentioned amount is only the base fine for violating VC 27315. The actual fine includes additional fees and penalty assessments; therefore, the actual fine would be significantly higher.

Purpose of Seatbelt Laws

Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, wearing a seat belt in a moving vehicle is crucial to ensuring vehicle safety. Using seat belts properly and consistently is one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce injuries as well as fatalities in the event of a traffic collision. This innovative tool plays an important role in protecting you from injuries to your head, body and limbs during a crash. When you are buckled up in a moving vehicle, it keeps you in a position aligned with the airbags – protecting you from blunt force trauma that can severely injure you or, worse, kill you. Furthermore, seatbelt usage can effectively reduce the effects of neck-related injuries such as whiplash. According to the National Safety Council, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that the usage of lap and shoulder seat belts effectively reduces the risk of front-seat passenger car occupants fatalities by about 45% and front-seat passenger car occupant moderate to critical injuries by around 50%.

Impact of Seatbelt Laws

A Harvard study found that mandatory seatbelt laws have significantly reduced traffic fatalities.  The results also revealed that having primary enforcement of these laws can effectively increase seat belt use. The findings also led to the conclusion that if all states that currently have secondary enforcement were to change to primary enforcement, the national usage rate of seat belts would increase from 68% to 77%, and around 500 lives could be saved per year.

Enforcement of Seatbelt Laws

Law enforcement plays a vital role in ensuring that drivers, as well as passengers, comply with enacted seat belt laws in their jurisdiction. The enforcement strategies for seatbelt laws vary depending on the state. In some jurisdictions, law enforcement officers conduct checkpoints for seat belts where they stop vehicles to check if they follow seat belt laws. Another strategy that officers enact to enforce seat belt usage is imposing penalties for violating seat belt laws.

Call A Car Accident Lawyer Now

In the modern world, seat belts are mandatorily installed in vehicles to ensure driver and passenger safety. Unfortunately, around 10% of Americans still refuse to wear seatbelts, exposing them to countless risks and road hazards. Seat belt laws are mandated in almost every part of the country, and their usage has been statistically proven to reduce the number of car accidents and fatalities due to traffic collisions. Whether you are the a driver or the passenger, wearing a seat belt in a moving vehicle is crucial in ensuring that you are protected. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in California or if you need help navigating the state’s seatbelt laws, Crockett Law Group can provide you with the assistance that you urgently need. With over 30 awards and honors, including recognition as an award-winning personal injury law firm, our team brings unparalleled expertise to your case. Specializing exclusively in auto accident claims, our professionals are deeply knowledgeable and experienced in navigating cases similar to yours, ensuring the best possible outcome for our clients. Crockett Law Group stands ready to advocate for your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. If you have been involved in a car accident and are unsure of what to do, contact us now at (888) 965-3827 for your inquiries or send us a message through our secure and confidential online form. Our fast and reliable team is available to assist you 24/7.
Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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