Seat Belt Laws in Montana Op-ed
17 October, 2014
Seat Belt Laws in Montana
There are many stories that circulate about being in car crashes, with or without wearing seatbelts. This particular story however, outlines what will be a constant theme throughout my whole paper: the horrible effects of not being buckled up while driving. This is a mother’s story, a woman by the name of Samantha Babcock. As you read this, think of how much the safety of your loved ones means to you. "Once I thought the buckle-up laws were just an inconvenience, but since it was the law, mostly, both of my children were in a car seat or safety belt. But sometimes either I would not have a car seat or there weren't enough safety belts. I used to think it was ok or that nothing would ever happen to us. I don't think that way anymore. What I think now is absolutely opposite, because the unthinkable has happened to me. I lost my daughter last July as a result of a car crash when she wasn't in a car seat, and my son will be physically and mentally affected for the rest of his life. If that isn't bad enough, the state had to prosecute me for child abuse/endangerment. Now that the trial is over, I need to heal.” (Personal Stories).
Sadly, Samantha Babcock is not alone with myths and negative opinions about seatbelts. Approximately 11,000 people each year could be saved just from wearing a seatbelt (How Wearing Seat Belts Can Help), and yet a great deal of people ignore the facts. The serious issue regarding the lack of education about seatbelt use, dawned on me while reading an editorial to the Missoulian titled Montana Must Make Primary Seatbelt Law Priority. As I continued reading, the article discussed the constant recklessness of vehicle occupants, just in Montana alone. To make better decisions as a state, I think it’s important to compare our progress to other states, such as those states who have implemented Primary Seatbelt Laws. To do so, we must discuss the myths about seatbelt use, the statistics of deaths per year from not wearing a seatbelt, and what the crash cost is. Once Montana drivers are educated, only then can we successfully implement Primary Seatbelt laws, which is the ultimate goal. First of all to put this into context, there are two different types of seatbelt Laws, Primary and Secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. Secondary seat belt laws state that law enforcement officers may issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another citable traffic infraction. Montana is an example of a state who uses the set of Secondary seat belt laws, and although it has been proven somewhat useful, 20.7% of Montana’s population, which is approximately 196,000 people, are still not buckling up (Primary Seatbelt Law Factsheet). In 2011 alone, there was a reported 172 vehicle occupant deaths. Out of those 172 deaths, 127 people were not wearing seatbelts (Montana Living). That is a large statistical number and often gets written off as just that, a statistic. But most Montana towns are small, with a wholesome community-feel based environment. That is 127 individual deaths which affect whole communities. If there can be at least one person saved from wearing a seatbelt, it would be beneficial to a magnitude of people. Some people however still dare to think “I don’t need to wear a seatbelt,” or “that would never happen to me.” There are many myths about seatbelt use, and I am going to help relieve some of those myths. Rarely do you see cars from the 1950’s still driving around, which were the models before seatbelts were standard in cars. Now it is generally well established that air bags do not make up for not wearing a seatbelt. An air bag deploys at a rate of 200 miles per hour. If not properly belted, impact...
Citations: "It 's All about Saving Lives..." Buckle Up Montana! Montana Department of Transportation. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"Lack of Seatbelt Use Cited in Fatal Crashes | Montana Matters | Montana Living Magazine." Lack of Seatbelt Use Cited in Fatal Crashes | Montana Matters | Montana Living Magazine. Montana Living. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"Buckle Up Montana!" Buckle Up Montana! Montana Department of Transportation. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"Seat Belt Laws." GHSA. Governor 's Highway Safety Association, 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"The Nation 's Top Strategies to Stop Impaired Driving DOT HS 810 712." The Nation 's Top Strategies to Stop Impaired Driving DOT HS 810 712. National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"How Wearing Seat Belts Can Help." U.S. Department of Transportation. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"Personal Stories." Personal Stories. Safety Belt Safe U.S. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
"Primary Seat Belt Law Factsheet." (2009). State of Montana.
"Seat Belt Use and Health Care Costs in Montana." (2009). HarborReview Injury Prevention and Research Center. Web.
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