The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that tougher seat belt laws and higher fines could reduce the risk associated with serious and fatal accidents nationwide.
Our Port St. Lucie car accidents lawyers have reported on the challenges facing Florida lawmakers. Little has been done in Tallahassee to address distracted driving, drunk driving and seat-belt safety for passengers and small children. As a result, the Sunshine State finds itself falling further and further behind and motorists are at increased risk of serious or fatal injury from car accidents in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and elsewhere in South Florida.
“We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday travel season,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “For the sake of your loved ones and everyone else on the road, please remember to buckle up and put away your cell phone every time you get behind the wheel.”
Florida is one of a dwindling number of states that has passed no laws regulating text messaging by drivers — even for teenagers. The National Transportation Safety Board reports it is one of just three states that does not require booster seats for young passengers ages 4 to 8.
Nor is Florida among the 17 states that has passed primary seat-belt enforcement for back-seat passengers. It has no restriction on the number of passengers a teen driver is permitted to have in the vehicle; lacks elements of tougher drunk driving laws and is among about half the nation’s state that need to improve motorcycle safety.
The federal government reports upgrading from secondary to primary seat belt enforcement — in which an officer can stop a vehicle for occupants not wearing seat belts rather than only enforcing the law during traffic stops for other driving infractions — increases seat belt use by 12 percent. Increasing fines form $25 to $60 increases use by 4 percent, while increasing fines to $100 results in a 7 percent increase in seat belt use.
“Seat belts are the single most protective safety device ever invented for use in vehicles, saving thousands of lives each year. Now our research proves that when states step up sanctions, they’re rewarded with huge improvements in belt use,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.
Freeman & Mallard is a South Florida personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.