Increasing Seat Belt Use Could Save Lives in Florida

July 31, 2015 | News

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 31, 2015 – Florida traffic safety officials say that hundreds of lives could be saved if more drivers and passengers buckled their seat belts.

In Florida in 2013, there were more than 1,200 deaths in vehicle crashes, and about 48 percent of the people who lost their lives were not wearing their seat belts. According to officials, many if not most of the unbelted deaths could have been prevented.

“Far too many Floridians lose their lives in traffic accidents,” said Robert Joyce, a Tampa car accident attorney with Joyce & Reyes. “It is tremendously important for drivers and passengers to take every safety precaution they can.”

Seat belt use in Florida has increased since 2009, when a state law came into effect requiring anyone sitting in the front seat of a vehicle, and anyone under the age of 18, to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion. Before the law came into effect, seat belt use was at about 75 percent, but that increased to almost 90 percent after the law, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Officials say that while the law is better than laws in some other states, it could be improved. In Florida, violation of the seat belt law is a primary offense, meaning that a driver can be pulled over solely for that violation. In 15 other states, the seat belt law is a secondary offense, so drivers can only be ticketed if they are pulled over for something else. However, Florida’s law does not apply to adults in the backseat. There are 28 states that have laws requiring all passengers, regardless of age or seating position, to buckle up.

Officials estimate that seat belts saved more than 11,900 lives nationwide in 2011 alone.

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