Data Shows Strict Enforcement of Seat Belt Laws Save Lives In Georgia


January 20, 2011

Many Georgia drivers have experienced the panic that accompanies the sight of flashing lights in one's rearview mirror and the realization that one has forgotten to buckle up. While the thought of receiving a traffic citation for failing to wear a seat belt may be upsetting, there is a fair amount of data that suggests that strict enforcement of seat belt laws reduces the number of fatalities and serious injuries suffered in auto accidents.

While many states including Georgia have some type of law that permits an officer to issue a traffic citation for not wearing a seat belt when operating a motor vehicle, the degree to which drivers wear seat belts as a matter of habit seems to vary based on the degree of enforcement and the strictness of the seat belt laws in the jurisdiction. Few people dispute that a seat belt can be the critical factor in avoiding serious injury or wrongful death in a motor vehicle collision with a car, pickup truck, SUV or tractor-trailer. At Montlick and Associates, our Georgia Car Accident Lawyers have been representing car accident victims who suffer serious injuries or fatalities in motor vehicle collisions for over 25 years.

The degree to which stricter enforcement of seat belt laws impacts behavior is reflected by the fact that states with laws that permit a driver to be stopped solely for not wearing a seat belt have a substantially higher degree of seat belt use. A study shows that there is a high correlation between strict seat belt laws and regular seat belt use by vehicle occupants. California, Oregon and Washington have the highest percentage of regular seat belt use. The percentage of drivers that report always wearing a seat belt in each state is provided below:

  • Oregon: 94%
  • California: 93.2%
  • Washingon: 92%

Each of these states has a law similar to the one in Georgia that provides that a police officer may stop a driver when the only reason for the stop is probable cause that the driver is not wearing a seat belt. The officer does not need evidence of any other violation to have sufficient legal cause to stop a motorist.

By contrast, North Dakota and South Dakota have the smallest percentage of drivers who report always wearing a seat belt with only 59% indicating that they always wear a seat belt. These states prohibit an officer from pulling over a vehicle solely because the officer believes the occupant of the vehicle is not wearing a seat belt. The officer must have probable cause to believe the occupant has committed some other traffic violation to stop the vehicle and issue a seat belt citation. The contention that stricter enforcement of seat belt laws promotes regular seat belt use also is supported by the fact that only 66.4% of New Hampshire drivers report always wearing a seat belt. New Hampshire is the only state that does not have a mandatory seat belt law. A study by the CDC also found that during an eight-year period an increase in seat belt use from 81% to 85% resulted in a 16% decline in auto accident injuries.

Auto accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in the U.S. Yet, more than 22% of all drivers do not always buckle up. As unpleasant as it is to receive traffic tickets, enforcement of traffic safety laws, including Georgia's mandatory seat belt laws, reduces the risk of suffering catastrophic injuries and wrongful death in Georgia auto collisions. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia Car Accident Attorneys urge Georgia drivers to buckle up. If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed in a Georgia motor vehicle accident, Montlick and Associates is prepared to represent you as we have families just like yours throughout Georgia. Call us today 24/7 for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com where you can fill out an online free case evalualtion form, or use our 24 hour Live Online Chat. No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

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