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Can Increasing Fines for Seat Belt Violations Save Lives?

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This past year, Homeland Security and the state Department of Safety reported more than 300 people who were not wearing their seat belts died in Tennessee. As a result, Tennessee law makers moved to crack down on those not buckling up.

As of January 1st, drivers who are not wearing their seat belts are expected to pay more than double the fines. First-time offenders are expected to fork over $25, rather than $10, and repeat offenders are expected to pay $50, rather than $20. Some citizens, however, remain skeptical about this change.


Given that the state issued more than 107,000 citations to drivers and passengers for not buckling up, some residents speculate the state issued this price jump to gain more revenue. However, a Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. said law enforcement officials studied other states­ (such as North Carolina, Connecticut, Maine and Washington) that approved increases to seat belt citation fines. Officials found each state showed a significant increase in number of citizens who used their seat belt as well as a drop in number of vehicle accident mortality. Officials say they hope the new law actually reduces the number of citations issued in 2016.

“What we hope is that as a result of this increase in seat belt fines, people will be encouraged to simply wear their seat belts,” Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons insisted.

Observational seat belt studies found more than 14 percent of Tennessee drivers did not use their seat belt in 2015, in spite of an overwhelming amount of evidence showing seat belts save thousands of lives each year and subsequently prevent even more catastrophic injuries. Whether they like it or not, Tennessee law ensures drivers who refuse to buckle up are going to have to pay up.

The Law Office of Stanley A. Davis is a personal injury firm that helps accident victims and their families in and around Nashville.

“Therefore you shall do my statutes, and keep my ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety.” Leviticus 25:18


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