New Seat Belt Law Takes Effect

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2007

Contact: Jeff Dean
(859) 654-3180

New Seat Belt Law Takes Effect

It’s official. As of Jan. 1, police officers can cite as a primary offense motorists who are not wearing their seatbelts.

Since July 12, 2006, when the new law took effect, officers have given motorists warnings for not wearing seat belts as part of an adjustment period. Before that time, driving without a seatbelt was a secondary offense, which meant officers could cite unbelted motorists only if they had another reason for stopping the vehicle.

“Now, if an officer sees a motorists driving without a seat belt, the motorists can be pulled over and ticketed,” Pendleton County Attorney Jeff Dean said. “A primary law regarding seat belts is important because it increases seat belt usage, thus saving lives.”

A June 2000 National Occupant Protection Use Survey showed that the average seat belt use rate in primary law states was 77 percent. In secondary law states, the average use rate is only 63 percent—a 14 percent point difference.

Recent research has indicated that the new seat belt law will save lives, prevent injuries and save money.
The University of Kentucky Transportation Center estimates that at least 62 lives will be saved as a direct result of the new law. Projections also show nearly 400 fewer incapacitating spinal chord and traumatic brain injuries each year. The law is expected to prevent more than 1,000 non-incapacitating injuries as well.
Because of the reduction in injuries, the law also will save Kentucky’s Medicaid budget an estimated $40.9 million over 10 years.

The law, which passed narrowly in April 2006, also required children under 16 to wear helmets when riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The new law brought with it $11.2 million in federal funding.

Dean said the fine for not wearing a seat belt is $25.