Earlier this week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law that will require that all Illinoisans buckle up in the back seat of a motor vehicle. Although Illinois has a 90.3 percent seat belt usage rate and is ranked 12th in the nation for responsible seat belt users, state government believes that we can improve our stats a little more.
Regardless of your viewpoints on government regulation on seat belt usage, you can’t deny that seat belts save lives. Yes, we have all heard the stories of someone surviving an accident because they were NOT wearing their seat belt. And motorists who where their seat belt are too often tragically killed in motor vehicle accidents. The fact remains though, that wearing your seat belt and not driving distracted are two things each motorist can do to help protect themselves from a fatal car accident in Chicago and elsewhere throughout Illinois.
Our Chicago personal injury attorneys know motorists are the frequent victims of negligent drivers, whether or not they are wearing their seat belt. Drivers have a civic duty to be cautious behind the wheel. This mean obeying speed limits and traffic laws, exercising respect for other motorists and halting distractions while operating your vehicle.
Starting the first of the year, driver in Illinois can get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt in the back seat of a motor vehicle. The current law states that only motorists who are age 19 and over can ride without a seat belt in the back seat. After the first of the year, Illinois will become the 26th state to require that everyone buckles up in the back seat.
The bill was sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton. He says that the change could save as many as 25 lives a year.
“This is the most important thing we can do,” Cullerton said.
Not everyone agrees with the new law. Some argue that by requiring people to wear seat belts the government is intruding on personal freedom. Hinsdale Republican Sen. Kirk Dillard, was one of those who opposed. He has previously stated that he strongly supports the use of seat belts but had to vote against the plan because he believes that it shouldn’t be the government’s call.
Still, suburban motorists are some of the state’s most responsible seat belt users. According to a recent study, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties all had a 94.2 percent seat belt usage rate of drivers and front-seat passengers.
As of July 2008, our state officers can fine a motorist $55 for not wearing a seat belt.
Seat belts aren’t just an issue in Illinois either. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is urging all motorists around the nation to buckle up, too. He released data that concludes that states that strengthen seat belt laws and increase fines for unbuckled motorists tend to see a significant increase seat belt use.
“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,” said Secretary LaHood.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that upgrade
from a secondary to primary seat belt law show estimated seat belt use gains of 12 percent.
They’ve also concluded that states that increase fines for seat belt use violations show gains of nearly 5 percentage points in 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.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.
Quinn signs Beaubien seat-belt bill, by Mike Riopell, Daily Herald
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