Thursday, January 8, 2009

Strengthening Missouri’s Seat Belt Law is MoDOT’s Top Priority for 2009

JEFFERSON CITY - With the Missouri General Assembly convening today, MoDOT announced its top priority for 2009 is to save 90 lives per year by strengthening Missouri's safety belt law to allow for primary enforcement.

Of more than 500 Missouri traffic laws, the current safety belt law is the only one that has a secondary enforcement provision - a driver must break another law first before they can be cited for a safety belt violation.

"You can be pulled over for a cracked taillight, but not for endangering your life and the lives of others by driving without a safety belt," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "Strengthening this law will save 90 lives and prevent 1,000 serious injuries at no cost to Missouri taxpayers. It's the right thing to do, and 2009 is the year to do it."

A 2008 survey shows that 76 percent of Missourians are buckling up - that number is virtually unchanged since 2004 and is consistently below the national average of 83 percent.

Missouri teens are even less likely to buckle up - only 62 percent. Between 2005-2007, 80 percent of teens that died in Missouri traffic crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

Amending the current law will also provide at least $16 million in a one-time federal incentive grant to use for safety enforcement, education and engineering - 2009 is the last year this grant is available.

MoDOT continues to work with the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, a partnership of safety advocates who have banded together to attack the problem of traffic crashes and deaths, to educate Missourians on the need for a primary safety belt law.

For more information on safety belt use and a primary safety belt law, visit the coalition's Web site at


ShawnP said...

As a twenty year military veteran who gave his time and energy to ensure freedom for our country and it's citzen's. I find it very objectionable that it is the stated goal and the number one goal of MODOT to limit the very freedoms that my service provided and is providing to the citzens of Missouri. We all agree it's stupid not to wear a seat belt but if a grown adult wants to be stupid then he or she has the freedom to be stupid. Maybe MODOT should spend more energy fixing guardrails instead of erecting orange cones when they are broken and stay out of my front seat.

Anonymous said...

The unbelted adult, in an accident, may become a projectile and injure, maim or even kill, any other passengers in the car who were wise enough to buckle up. While I thank you for your military service, I ask you to consider the others that may ride beside you.

Anonymous said...

This is a copy of a letter i sent to Representative Hobbs and Senator Shoemyer. I also urge everyone in support to contact their senators and representatives:

As I constituent of yours, I urge you to support the legislation regarding the "Primary Seatbelt Law" in Missouri.

I am in full support of a mandatory seatbelt law in the State of Missouri, as I am tired of high medical cost, high insurance premiums, paying medicaid, and social security to support all the ignorant souls that choose not to buckle up and create millions of dollars of medical bills that they can not pay when it takes a only a few seconds to put a seatbelt on that could prevent serious injuries.

Yes, restrained people get hurt and die in crashes too, but as the statistics show a person restrained by a seatbelt are more likely to walk away from an accident then the ones that are not restrained. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol the probability of a driver dying in a collision is one in 1,017 — if that driver is restrained by a seat belt. Unbelted, the chance of death is 1 in 32. My question to you is, what if that 1 in 32 was a loved one of yours.
In Missouri, 1,257 people died in crashes in 2005, two-thirds of whom were not using seat belts.

In a time when the economy is dropping rapidly, it only makes sense to me to save money any way we can and to cut ALL unnecessary costs we have. A primary law in Missouri would save more than $230 million annually in medical expenses, lost productivity, property damage and related costs. Cumulative Medicaid costs alone would decrease by at least $100 million over the next 10 years. Passage of a primary seat-belt law also would make Missouri eligible for an additional $16 million in federal funds for highway safety.
Most opponents of a primary enforcement law tend to cite the risk of racial profiling and the restriction of personal freedom. Clearly, race must never be a factor in the enforcement of any traffic law, and research in two states that have upgraded their secondary laws to primary status — Louisiana and Georgia — indicated no change in ticketing patterns by race.

The other argument suggests that any interference with a person's driving violates personal freedom, yet those who pay the highest price for such a political philosophy are our youngest and most inexperienced drivers. The fact is, the social contract among individuals in a self-governing nation occasionally requires some give and take, speed limits being an obvious example.

In that regard, it's worth thinking about what the surviving family members of the 1,257 Missourians who died in highway crashes in 2005 might say about the value of a primary seat-belt law.

Anonymous said...

Let's face cold reality: This (Missouri's Seat Belt Law) is all about money. Missouri gets at least $16 million from the Feds if the legislation can pass this. This is the last year for this offer. Where was Missouri before this offer? If our politicians are so concerned about saving lives, then let's get some legislation passed banning abortions. Now THAT would save some lives. I'm not happy about the possibility of getting this law shoved down our collective throats. I wear my belt whenever I'm in the seat, but I sure don't do it because Big Brother is watching.

Bill Rook said...

If anyone thinks there will be noticeable decreases in costs to the taxpayers, they are sadly mistaken. As an unfortunate driver in 2 motor vehicle accidents with no passengers, I was uninjured, with exception of my left collar bone from the use of a shoulder belt. This was a 45mph t-bone accident in a roadway intersection. My 2nd accident was a complete rollover at 55mph in a 1960 Ford Falcon Ranchero. (pre-seatbelt vehicle) I remained in my seat and automatically grasped the wheel tightly. Other than being sore all over the next day, I suffered no injuries. I would accept a primary seatbelt law, but would be an opponent of the proper wearing of shoulder belts. Lap belts are sufficient, in my opinion and the upper torso is well protected by the driver airbag. Law or not, I will still wear a lap belt, but refuse to properly wear a shoulder belt. It will remain tucked under my left armpit. I will not go through the pain of a collar bone injury again, just to satisfy the demand of Missouri or any other state.

Anonymous said...

The man stating that he wont wear a seat belt because it was the cause of him breaking his collar bone is missing the point that had he not been wearing it his chest would have hit the steering wheel chasing him many more injuries. This kind of misguided interpretation of crash dynamics is why so many people do not wear seat belts and cause preventable injuries to occur. I am for individual freedom and the real way to fix the issue is to call in accountability into the picture. If someone does not wear a seat belt or helmet then we ought not cover their indigent medical expenses and exempt the patient from EMTALA coverage. If you want to be an idiot that is fine but I ought not have to pay for your mistakes.

stjoefreepress said...

When used properly seat belts do save lives, just like insulin and defibulators, which could lead one to infer a seat belt is a medical device. All personal medical choices are a civil liberty, from ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ affidavits to the choice of taking cold medicine, each competent person has the freedom to choose their course of well-being. A compulsory seat belt law infringes on civil liberties and privacy.