Sometimes the principle of a law is good, but the way it will be enforced lessens its effectiveness. Legislation approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday will allow authorities to stop vehicles just to make sure the driver and everyone in the car under 18 is properly buckled up. Currently, officers need another reason to stop an automobile in order to check for seat belts.
While it is important for people to wear seat belts to prevent injury, this law gives officers an excuse to pull over anyone they think may not be wearing a seat belt. This will waste the time of both law enforcers and travelers.
Fred Dickinson, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said, “This is the least intrusive way you can save lives on the highways.” On the contrary, pulling over a car just to make sure people are wearing seat belts is very intrusive.
Beyond that, when pulled over, doesn’t everyone reach to make sure the seat belt is on? By the time a police officer puts the vehicle’s lights on, pulls over a car, parks and walks to the vehicle, all in the car will no doubt, be securely buckled up.
The Florida Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration predicts this law could save 262 lives and prevent an additional 6,200 injuries. However, these accidents can be prevented in other ways.
A more effective way to encourage people to wear seat belts would be through education campaigns in high school that focus on the dangers of not wearing seat belts.
It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure everyone in the car is buckled up before even starting the car.
Either way, allowing officers to pull over vehicles just to check whether their passengers are wearing a seat belt is going to be an ineffective way to enforce this law and will be a waste of the police officers’ time.