Editorial: Yes, buckle upThere’s nothing new about the fact that buckling up saves lives. That’s why Minnesota and Wisconsin require drivers and their passengers to wear seat belts and children to have car seats.
By: Republicn Eagle Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
There’s nothing new about the fact that buckling up saves lives. That’s why Minnesota and Wisconsin require drivers and their passengers to wear seat belts and children to have car seats.
Still, some people resist, which is why Minnesota adopted a primary seat belt law in 2009. The primary law means law enforcement officers may pull over and ticket a motorist if they observe someone in a moving vehicle isn’t belted. The previous secondary law allowed such ticketing only when there was another moving violation, such as speeding, DWI or a headlight out.
More Minnesotans have started buckling up since the law passed. Observed seat-belt use increased from 87 percent in 2008 to 93 percent in 2011, according to a study released Monday.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety conducted the study for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Researchers found that because people buckled up, the state had 68 fewer deaths and 320 fewer severe injuries from 2009 to 2011 than in previous years.
Statistics also showed that this resulted in $45 million fewer hospital charges. Now consider that nearly $10 million of that is tax revenue the state didn’t spend on crash-related Medicare and Medicaid charges, and you can see why you should care if another motorist isn’t wearing a seat belt.
That brings us to another finding: More Minnesotans support the primary seat belt law today than when it passed three years ago. A survey shows the support increased from 62 percent to more than 70 percent.
The primary seat belt law is making a difference. We suspect that the corresponding “Click it or Ticket” campaigns have contributed to increased seat belt use.
So what about the remaning 7 percent who apparently aren’t bucking up? Society must continue to educate them. The duty falls to all of us, especially parents, because most of those foregoing seat belts are young people.
Each year motorists ages 15–29 account for about 40 percent of all unbelted deaths and 50 percent of all unbelted serious injuries, the Department of Public Safety reports. Yet this group represents less than 25 percent of all licensed drivers.
So set an example for these young drivers. Buckle up each and every time. And mom and dad, you might consider taking away the car keys if your teens don’t comply. You could be saving their lives.