Kansas enacts new primary seatbelt law

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Kansas has enacted a new primary seatbelt law that enables police officers to stop and ticket the driver of any passenger car if either the driver or front seat passenger is observed not wearing a seatbelt. The law also applies to anyone under age 18.

The new law makes Kansas eligible to receive $11 million in federal incentive funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. With the addition of Kansas, 31 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have primary seatbelt laws.

“We are pleased that Kansas has joined those states that have adopted primary seatbelt laws to save lives,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says. “Wearing a seatbelt can make the difference between life and death in a crash, so always buckle up on every trip, every time.”

According to DOT, primary seatbelt laws have a proven track record of increasing state seatbelt use rates. In 2009, the average seatbelt use rate in states with primary enforcement laws was 11 percent higher than in states with secondary enforcement laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that, with the passage of its primary belt law, Kansas will increase its belt use by about 9 percent, cut annual fatalities in passenger cars and light trucks by 8 percent and reduce serious injuries.

According to NHTSA, seatbelt use is the most effective protection against serious crash injuries, reducing the risk by 50 percent. “We applaud Governor Mark Parkinson and the state legislature for stepping up to the plate to make Kansas roads safer,” says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Seatbelts have saved more lives than any other piece of safety equipment in the American automobile, but they only work when you wear them.”