buckle upWearing a belt is a fashion statement that some choose to make. Belts come in various sizes, colors, and designs. But there is also a belt that must be worn by all motorists: the seat belt; the most important accessory in an automobile.

About.com featured the history of the seat belt. According to the article, the first U.S. patent for automobile seat belts was awarded to Edward J. Claghorn of New York City on February 19, 1885. The description given of the invention was that it was “designed to be applied to the person, and provided with hooks and other attachments for securing the person to a fixed object.”

Two striking words from the definition are “securing” and “fixed.” Securing is synonymous to safeguarding or making safe, so a seat belt is meant to keep you safe while driving your car. Fixed is similar to secured, or stable. This means that the seat belt is designed in such a way that you will be restrained properly and will not be thrown out of the car during a crash or collision.

Today, the seat belt has evolved into various designs to improve functionality and aesthetic value. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) included the following history of the seat belt on their website:

• 1889- Volvo patented the first rudimentary seat belt

• 1968 – Federal government required seat belts to be installed in all new passenger cars

• 1985- New York enacted the first state law on seat belt use; other states soon followed.

The GHSA also reported that the wearing of the seat belt has come a long way. Seat belt use rates have steadily increased over time. In 1994, the overall observed seat belt use rate was 58 percent. By 2010, the national average was 85 percent. The
GHSA cited several factors that have contributed to the compliance in the wearing of the seat belt:

Changing Secondary Laws to Primary Enforcement  Laws

Secondary seat belt laws allow law enforcement to stop a vehicle and issue a citation only after the officer cites the offender for another violation, such as speeding. Primary seat belt laws, however, allow law enforcement to stop a vehicle and issue a citation when the officer observes an unbuckled driver or passenger.

Upgrading Seating Positions’ Requirement for a Seat Belt

Wearing of a seat belt is now required for those seated in front as well as those seated in the back. In short, all must wear a seat belt while the car is in motion.

Increased Fines
In Utah for Unbuckled Riders

A fine of $45 is imposed for a first offense of secondary seat belt law violation. Interestingly enough, Texas will penalize a first time offender of the primary seat belt law with a $200 fine.

Seat Belt Reminders in Vehicles

Most vehicles now beep until the driver fastens the seat belt. This encourages people to wear their belt at all times, even when driving slowly or short distances.

Education Law Enforcement Agencies

These agencies make extra efforts to educate the public on the vital role that seat belt wearing plays in keeping motorists and passengers from injury and death.
For example, Utah Law Enforcement took the Click it or Ticket Campaign to creative heights by showing what a seat belt can do.
A pick-up truck was hoisted in mid-air, secured only with a strap made out of seat belts. The hoisted pick-up was displayed in front of the Utah State Capitol building for an entire day.

The factor that will contribute the most to the wearing of seat belts and road safety is YOU. Starting today, strive to be fashionable, WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT!

We at Christensen & Hymas support government initiatives in making our roadways safe for everyone. Feel free to call us at (801) 506-0800 for a free consultation regarding road accidents and reckless driving. We can help you.

Image copy right of Eli Duke