Buckle up and save some bucksThere are plenty of good reasons to wear a seat belt, starting with the fact that not buckling up could cost you your life.
By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
There are plenty of good reasons to wear a seat belt, starting with the fact that not buckling up could cost you your life.
Seat belts prevent and reduce serious injuries. Wearing a seat belt also helps eliminate driver fatigue by improving posture during long journeys.
Minnesota added another good reason this week: You could get socked for $125 — that's a $25 ticket plus a hundred bucks in court fees.
Minnesota joined 28 other states with primary seat belt laws. Primary equates to standard, meaning that the seat belt law now has the same status as most state laws. Officers have authority to stop any motorist if they believe the person isn't wearing a seat belt.
Twenty other states have seat belt laws that prevent officers from ticketing people unless the driver violates another traffic law, such as crossing the center line or speeding. Minnesota, until June 9, was among them.
We wish lawmakers had enacted the law sooner. Sen. Steve Murphy introduced it nearly nine years ago, and he carried the measure 16 times.
Thanks to his perseverance, the law took effect Tuesday, the 10th anniversary of 15-year-old Meghan Cooper's death. The Goodhue County lawmaker never forgot that the Kenyon-Wanamingo student, a passenger in a 1999 rollover crash, might have lived had she been wearing a seat belt.
The new law will save lives. Murphy estimates the law will result in 30 people surviving crashes a year, as reported in Tuesday's front page story.
The law also will reduce medical costs. As Murphy pointed out during numerous debates, traffic-related injury expenses double when the victim wasn't wearing a seat belt. The law eventually will save Minnesota drivers hundreds of thousands in insurance premiums.
The new law carries statewide financial incentives, too. Minnesota is now eligible $3.4 million in federal transportation safety grants.
Money, unlike common sense alone, speaks to some people. It spoke to lawmakers, obviously, who passed the law.
Perhaps the law will speak to motorists who haven't buckled up. There are plenty — 17 percent, according to the Department of Public Safety — who need convincing.
The agency estimates that compliance will increase from 87 percent to at least 95 percent under the new law. We hope they are right and that motorists do the right thing.
Buckle up. Save your life. Save a few bucks, too.