Florida’s Seat Belt Law Enacted To Save Lives

Florida has a new law that goes into effect Tuesday of this week. Modeled after Georgia’s Seat Belt law which was enacted in 1996 and has saved thousands of lives, the law, according to the article below, is long overdue.

Beginning Tuesday, not wearing a seat belt can cost you about $100 under a new Florida law that changes enforcement of the state’s law. Officers now can stop people for not wearing a seat belt. Before, motorists could only be cited if they were stopped for another violationThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that Florida’s primary seat belt law will prevent roughly 1,700 serious auto accident injuries, 140 deaths and save about $408 million in associated costs yearly, Leeper said.

In 2007 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said seat belt usage in Georgia was at 89 percent.

Statistics for the state for 2007, the latest available from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, include:

– Of 1,972 people killed in crashes, 1,201, or 61 percent, of them were not wearing a seat belt.

– Florida’s seat belt usage rate is 81.7 percent, which ranks 31st out of the 50 states.

– Law enforcement officers in Florida issued 311,715 traffic citations for not wearing a seat belt as a secondary traffic offense.

The new measure carries a financial incentive passed by Congress in 2005. That program gives states a one-time federal grant to be spent on highway-related projects if the state adopts a primary enforcement law by June 30. Florida’s potential grant could be $35.5 million.

Some lawmakers had worried it would increase racial profiling. Rep. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, was among the legislators who voted against the measure.

“I do have an issue with racial profiling not only of blacks but also of brown minorities, and I understand that seat belts save lives,” she said. “But I view this as a primary stop bill, not a primary seat belt law, so let’s call it what it really is.”

Georgia made it legal to pull over motorists solely for not wearing a seat belt effective July 1, 1996, according to Georgia Department of Public Safety spokesman Gordy Wright. It is a non-moving violation and carries a fine of $15.

Before it became a primary enforcement law, Georgia in 1995 had a fatal accident rate of 2.1 percent per 100 million miles traveled, Wright said, or about 1,600 fatalities. By 1999 that had dipped to 1.9 percent per 100 million miles, or about 1,500 fatalities.

“That was despite motor vehicle travel increasing about 5 percent a year,” Wright said. “There were more cars on the road and more drivers, but still the fatal accident rate declined.”

Article by Jessie-Lynne Kerr, Jacksonville. com

Georgia Traffic Laws

Florida Traffic Laws

One Response

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