Keep safety in mind; always buckle up

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Everybody knows an auto accident can ruin your day. But it may end your life too if you do not make a practice of wearing a seat belt every time you get in a car.

Besides the risk of serious injury or even death, violators of Alabama’s mandatory seatbelt law will get a stiff fine starting Friday. The fine, including court costs, for drivers and front seat passengers who do not buckle up is more than $100.

Seat belts save lives and prevent serious injuries, according to Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage. That is why officers with the Troy Police Department are working to educate drivers about the importance of using safety restraints.

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Citizens need to buckle up every time they hit the road. Not only is wearing your seat belt a good idea, it is now the law in Alabama.

TPD officers are working to increase Pike County drivers’ awareness about the new mandatory seat belt law. It allows state, county and local police officers to stop motorists for not wearing their seat belts. Under the previous law, officers can only site motorists for not wearing their seat belts if they pull them over for another violation, such as speeding.

Enforcement of Alabama’s mandatory seat belt law begins Friday. That’s when law enforcement officers will start ticketing violators.

The legislation amends Section 32-5B-6 of the Code of Alabama 1975.

Under the earlier law, a motorist could not be cited for failure to wear a seat belt in a moving motor vehicle unless the driver is stopped by a law enforcement officer for a separate violation and issued a ticket for it, according to the law. Also, a person subject to a penalty for a violation of the seat belt law is assessed court costs in the court where convicted.

The law is a good idea. Statistics show wearing a seat belt increases the risk of surviving a wreck.

With the mandatory seat belt law, 94 lives and 783 serious injuries will be saved in one year, according to National Safety Council statistics. Those statistics also show the law saves lives because it would increase current seat belt usage from 52 to 65 percent.

Critics of the mandatory seat belt law are concerned it places a financial burden on poorer motorists who may not be able to afford putting seat belts in their older cars. Others say a mandatory seat belt law allows government to interfere in citizens’ daily lives and collect revenue from motorists.

But we believe seat belt laws are meant to protect citizens and not to provide the government with revenue or greater control over people. No matter why seatbelt laws are on the books, buckling up simply makes sense.

Dec. 7, 1999 10 PM