A federal study has suggestions that are no surprise to any Kansas City injury attorney. The analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that both Kansas and Missouri could do a much better job of preventing injuries and fatalities in auto accidents if they simply have stronger seatbelt laws. Specifically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is suggesting an increase in fines and penalties for seatbelt violations.
Kansas has some of the lowest seatbelt violation fines in the country. The fine for violations of seatbelt laws here is a pitiful $5. Missouri does a little better with a fine of $10 for every seatbelt violation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both states would have a better chance of encouraging drivers to buckle up if they increased their fines to between $60 and $100.
The NHTSA analysis reveals that nationwide, the average seatbelt violation fine was around $25. The analysis concluded that if states would increase the fines to up to $60, it would increase belt compliance use by approximately 3%. If fines were increased to $100, it would increase seatbelt use by approximately 6%. According to the analysis, those states that had strong seatbelt enforcement had fines and fees averaging $81 and seat belt rates that hovered at about 84%. In states where the fines averaged just over $24, the seatbelt compliance rates were at about 71.7%.
Kansas passed a primary seat belt enforcement law in 2002 that has dramatically increased seatbelt compliance rates in the state. Seatbelt use increased to about 82% after that law was passed. Missouri continues to remain one of the few states that have no primary seat belt enforcement laws. Seatbelt use here continues to languish at approximately 75%.
We could be doing a much better job of preventing injuries and fatalities every year if we increase fines and penalties. Our legislators should be thinking more about saving lives and accidents, even if it means passing unpopular laws.