Alabama Seat Belt Law by miamichicca


									Traffic Safety Facts
                                                                                                                      April 2004

Strengthening Safety Belt Use Laws-Increase Belt Use,
Decrease Crash Fatalities and Injuries
Traffic crashes are a leading cause of       a vehicle and issue a citation when         State’s safety belt use rate. In 2003, the
death in the United States. Increasing       the officer observes an unbelted driver     average safety belt use rate in States
safety belt use has tremendous poten-        or passenger.                               with primary enforcement laws was
tial for saving lives, preventing inju-                                                  8 percentage points higher than in
                                             Secondary enforcement means that
ries, and reducing the economic costs                                                    States without primary enforcement
                                             a citation for not wearing a safety belt
associated with crashes. Strong occu-                                                    laws. (Safety belt use was 83 percent in
                                             can only be written after the officer
pant protection laws coupled with high                                                   primary law States versus 75 percent in
                                             stops the vehicle or cites the offender
visibility enforcement campaigns (such                                                   States without primary enforcement.)
                                             for another infraction.
as “Click It or Ticket”) are currently the
                                                                                         When States upgrade their laws from
most effective ways to increase safety       Passing primary safety belt use laws
                                                                                         secondary to primary, significant in-
belt use.                                    in every State is essential to saving
                                                                                         creases in safety belt use are often ob-
                                             thousands of lives and preventing tens
Make All Belt Use Laws                       of thousands of injuries each year.
                                                                                         served. For example, when three States
Subject to Primary                           Enactment of primary laws sends a
                                                                                         –New Jersey, Alabama, and Michigan–
Enforcement                                  message to motorists that safety belt
                                                                                         upgraded their secondary safety belt
                                                                                         laws to primary laws in 2000:
Definitions:                                 use is an important safety issue that
Primary (standard) enforcement al-           the State takes seriously. Increases in     ■ The safety belt use rate in New
lows a law enforcement officer to stop       belt use have been made without a pri-        Jersey rose from 63 percent in 1999
                                             mary safety belt use law in place, but        to 74 percent in 2000.
                                             the greatest gains are possible when a
                                             primary law works in conjunction with       ■ The safety belt use rate in Alabama
                                             high visibility enforcement campaigns         rose from 58 percent in 1999 to 71
  Inside This Issue                          such as “Click It or Ticket.”                 percent in 2000.
  ■ Make All Belt Use Laws                                                               ■ The safety belt use rate in Michigan
    Subject to Primary                       A primary safety belt use law is much
                                                                                           rose from 70 percent in 1999 to 84
    Enforcement                              more readily enforced than a second-
                                                                                           percent in 2000.
                                             ary law. In attitude surveys, officers
  ■ Successful Examples                      consistently preferred primary laws
  ■ Public Support is Strong for             and report that a secondary enforce-        Public Support is Strong for
    Primary Safety belt Use Laws             ment law is a major deterrent to            Primary Safety belt Use Laws
  ■ Protect All Vehicle Occupants            issuing citations. Abundant research        In 2000, NHTSA conducted a survey
    in All Passenger Vehicles                has shown that an upgrade to primary        among a national sample of approxi-
                                             enforcement will significantly raise belt   mately 6,000 people ages 16 and older
  ■ Significant Fines Are                    use rates when combined with educa-         to determine attitudes, knowledge,
    Important in Increasing Belt             tion and adjudication.                      and reported behavior regarding oc-
                                                                                         cupant protection.
  ■ Occupant Protection Grant
                                             Successful Examples
    Programs                                 Primary safety belt laws have a             ■ Overall, 61 percent of the
                                             proven track record of increasing a           population surveyed believed that
   law enforcement officers should         examined this issue extensively during      trucks. More than 100 children and
   be allowed to stop a vehicle if         2000 and 2001. As a result, NOBLE has       teenagers die each year as a result of
   they observe only a safety belt use     voiced support for law enforcement          riding in cargo areas of pickup trucks.
   violation (primary enforcement).        training, educational outreach to the
                                                                                       Having a strong, well-written law
■ Perhaps not surprisingly, support        African American community, and
                                                                                       is crucial to saving lives. In 2002,
  for primary enforcement was higher       passage of primary safety belt laws to
                                                                                       NHTSA partnered with the National
  in primary enforcement States (70        increase safety belt use among African
                                                                                       Committee on Uniform Traffic
  percent). However, even in States        Americans.
                                                                                       Laws and Ordinances, the National
  with secondary enforcement,              The Congressional Black Caucus              Transportation Safety Board, the Air
  the majority (53 percent) favored        has stated that increasing safety           Bag & Safety belt Safety Campaign, the
  primary enforcement.                     belt use among African Americans            Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety,
■ Overall support for primary              is an “urgent national health prior-        Inc., and the Governors Highway
  enforcement was greatest among           ity.” The National Black Caucus of          Safety Association to create a “model
  Hispanics (72 percent) followed by       State Legislators and the National          law” that can assist States in draft-
  non-Hispanics (60 percent), African      Conference of Black Mayors have also        ing the language needed to eliminate
  Americans (68 percent) and whites        expressed support for strong laws that      the gaps that often occur in occupant
  (59 percent).                            increase safety belt use and include        protection legislation. This law rec-
                                           safeguards for uniform enforcement.         ommends that every occupant (both
As of January 1, 2004, 20 States, the                                                  children and adults) of a motor vehicle
District of Columbia and Puerto            ASPIRA, a national organization dedi-
                                                                                       in motion. The model law is available
Rico have primary laws in effect.1         cated to the education and leadership
Twenty-nine States have secondary          development of Hispanic youth, also
enforcement laws and one State (New        has expressed its support for primary       Fines Play a Part in Increasing
Hampshire) has no adult safety belt        safety belt legislation. ASPIRA passed      Belt Use
use law.                                   a resolution supporting primary
                                           enforcement of State safety belt and        There is evidence to support the belief
Addressing Concerns About                  child safety seat use laws and efforts to   that higher fines are associated with
the Enforcement of Primary                 promote compliance with such laws.          higher safety belt use rates. In its
Laws:                                                                                  report on the 2001 Safety belt Summit,
                                           Recognizing the contribution that           the Automotive Coalition for Traffic
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading      primary laws make to safety belt            Safety (ACTS) reported that the level of
cause of death for African Americans       use among all groups, many minor-           fines had an impact on safety belt us-
from birth through 14 years of age and     ity group legislators have supported        age. ACTS examined State-conducted
are the second leading cause of death      primary law upgrades in their States.       belt use surveys from 1998 and 1999
for African Americans between 15 and       Some of these legislators have testified    and observed that belt use averaged six
24 years of age. Motor vehicle crashes     publicly that following their upgrades      points higher in States having fines of
are the leading cause of death for         to primary safety belt laws, they have      $30 and above than in States with fines
Hispanics from 1-44 years of age, and      seen neither backlash in their com-         less than $30.
are the third leading cause of death for   munities nor evidence of differential
Hispanics of all ages surpassed only       enforcement of the new laws.
                                                                                       Occupant Protection Grant
by heart disease and cancer. However,
a major concern about the enforcement      Protect All Vehicle Occupants               Programs
of primary occupant protection laws        in All Passenger Vehicles                   The Transportation Equity Act for
expressed by opponents of this legisla-                                                the 21st Century (TEA-21) was signed
                                           Safety belt laws vary from State to
tion is differential enforcement—the                                                   into law on June 9, 1998. In addition
                                           State with some laws covering only
targeting of people from different                                                     to providing funding for improving
                                           front seat occupants, some providing
racial and ethnic groups by police                                                     America’s roadways, bridges, and tran-
                                           for only secondary safety belt enforce-
enforcing traffic laws.                                                                sit systems, this comprehensive legisla-
                                           ment, and some exempting pickup
                                                                                       tion provides funding for increasing
The National Organization of Black         trucks and vans. Some laws apply only
                                                                                       safety belt and child safety seat use.
Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE),        to State residents. Many States fail to
the Nation’s leading organization of       address the issue of children riding as     Section 157 (incentive) created a pro-
minority law enforcement officials,        passengers in the cargo area of pickup      gram to encourage States to increase
their safety belt use rates in recogni-      crashes and resulting deaths, injuries,    2003, NHTSA will broaden outreach
tion that increased belt use decreases       and property damage. A State may use       programs directed toward these
crash injuries and the financial burden      these grant funds only for highway         high-risk groups through intensified
these preventable injuries place on          safety purposes; at least 40 percent of    media strategies and high visibility
Federal programs. Funds are allocated        these funds must be used to address        safety belt enforcement demonstra-
to eligible States based on savings in       local traffic safety problems, including   tion grants using the Click It or Ticket
medical costs to the Federal govern-         restraint use.                             model. Such programs will be imple-
ment due to improved safety belt use.                                                   mented in States and communities
                                             Local Community Grants: Congress
                                                                                        with a high proportion of high-risk
Section 157 (innovative) provides            has provided funding for initiatives
                                                                                        populations demonstrating low safety
that Section 157 funds not allocated to      for FY 2003 to increase safety belt use.
                                                                                        belt use rates.
incentive grants in a fiscal year be allo-   NHTSA plans to build upon initiatives
cated to the States to carry out innova-     laid out during FY 2001 and FY 2002,       Section 405 is an incentive grant pro-
tive projects that promote increased         when funding was made available to         gram to increase the use of safety belts
safety belt use.                             local communities to increase safety       and child safety seats by encouraging
                                             belt use among high-risk groups, such      States to adopt more effective laws,
Section 402 provides funds to States         as minorities, younger drivers, and        stronger penalties, and highly visible
and communities to reduce traffic            part-time safety belt users. During FY     enforcement and education programs.
The reports and additional
information are available from
your State Highway Safety Office,
the NHTSA Regional Office
serving your State, or from NHTSA
Headquarters, Impaired Driving
and Occupant Protection Office,
ATTN: NTS-110, 400 Seventh
Street, S.W., Washington, DC
20590; 202-366-4913; or NHTSA’s
web site at

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