Thursday, September 8, 2011

One in Three Missouri Teens Don't Wear Seat Belts

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:28 AM

click to enlarge Maybe it's time to bring back the crash test dummies?
  • Maybe it's time to bring back the crash test dummies?
Missourians continue to lag the nation when it comes to using seat belts, according a new report.

The study found that just 79 percent of the general population in Missouri wear seat belts. The national average is 85 percent. Missouri's ranking is even worse when it comes to teen drivers. Nearly one in three of them (33 percent) don't buckle up.

The good news is that seat belt usage is slowly increasing in the Show-Me State. Last year, just 76 percent of the state's general public wore seat belts. Still the question remains: Why are we so reluctant to use these proven safety devices?

Sandra Hentges, outreach coordinator for MoDOT, tells Daily RFT that part of the problem is that seat belts fall under "secondary law" in Missouri. That means the highway patrol can't pull you over just for not wearing a seat belt. There has to be some other infraction, such as speeding or a broken headlight.

That said, many municipalities have laws on the books making seat belts a primary law in their communities, and state law does allow for police every where to stop drivers under the age of 18 for not buckling up.

"But can you tell the age difference between teens a few years apart?" asks Hentges. "I can't, and I think a lot of police officers probably have the same problem."

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