That seat belts are encouraged by roughly every expert, official, and average Joe who talks about them is, by now, old hat. For years, it has been common knowledge that seat belts save nearly as many lives as they annoy and that parents who don’t strap in their children can be penalized. However, few people have a thorough understanding of all the laws regarding safety restraints in cars or the seriousness of the laws in place.
The safety of all passengers depends on the proper placement of seat belts across the proper parts of the body; yet the majority of people either do not understand the importance of a well-fitted seat belt or don’t know how to use the devices that make them work right. Ignorance of this sort exacts a toll—in the form of either a fine or injury. To learn exactly what the law demands for safety’s sake, read on:
1. Children below 8 years of age 57” in height need a booster seat
If a child is younger than 8-years-old OR shorter than 57 inches tall, they are legally required to be confined in a booster seat, or their seat belts will be rendered ineffective ( or even lethal, as children whose shoulder straps run across their necks run the risk of strangulation).
2. The driver is responsible for the seat belts worn in the car/under 16
Even if the parent of the child is a passenger in the car, it is the driver’s job to ascertain that all passengers 15 and younger are properly restrained before the vehicle starts moving. Young children should be inspected before takeoff.
3. Inspection stations
So that there is no excuse not to place children of appropriate age and size in booster seats, numerous inspection stations are located throughout Utah. For no cost, parents can make an appointment at any of some 50 checkpoints to have their children’s car/booster seats evaluated.
4. You can be stopped solely on suspicion of safety restraint violation
If an officer sees that an individual below the age of 19 is not appropriately restrained in their seat, that alone is a sufficient basis for pulling the car over. This provides some incentive to continue modeling responsible behavior even into adulthood.
5. You can be fined for a seat belt violation
If the danger of being ejected from your car in an accident won’t persuade you to buckle up, perhaps a fine will: violators of seat belt laws face a maximum $45 for their noncompliance. (It should be noted that a $45 penalty pales in comparison to whatever costs arise in a car accident.)
6. 150 lives could be saved by seat belts each year in Utah
The Utah Highway Safety Office estimates that more than 100 lives were saved by the proper use of seat belts in 2010. Fifty more were lost because of a failure to fasten in. No degree of discomfort justifies such an oversight when it ends in a loss of life.
While seat belts are overwhelmingly beneficial, there are times when they cannot offset the other factors in an accident…or, more rarely, times when their poor design leads to harm. If you have been injured in a car accident in spite of precautions or on account of a badly-made seat belt, you are entitled to reparations. To find out what your rights are and how to pursue them in a high-cost car accident, call the office of Christensen & Hymas in Draper for a free consultation at (801) 506-0800.
image courtesy of: Steven Depolo