Good news: Now more than ever, Floridians traveling the state’s roadways are looking out for themselves and for each other by fastening their seat belts. In its “June 2018 Safety Belt Use in Florida” report, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that the statewide safety belt usage rate has climbed to 90.6 percent, beating the previous year’s 90.2 percent rate and establishing a new all-time high. However, there is still significant room for improvement among Florida drivers.
In 1999, when the first federally certified survey on seat belts was completed in Florida, seat belt usage was at just 58.7 percent. The FDOT attributes the increased rate of seat belt usage to its persistent educational efforts, “Click It or Ticket” messaging, and law enforcement campaigns.
Yet, some people still refuse to buckle up when they’re behind the wheel or along for the ride. According to the FDOT report, men are less likely to fasten their seat belts than women, at 88.3 percent versus 93.7 percent. African-American occupants (85.8% wearing seat belts) are less likely to buckle up than white (92.5%) or Hispanic (90.6%) occupants. These trends, in particular, have remained consistent over the years.
People between the ages of 16 and 34 are the least likely to wear seat belts, while both younger and older drivers of all ages are more careful in this regard. Seat belt usage also varies by the type of car a person sits in and the type of road they travel. With a usage rate of only 81.7 percent, pickup truck drivers and their passengers were far less likely to wear seat belts than occupants of vans (92.2%), cars (91.8%) or SUVs (91.4%). Local roads saw fewer people following the seat belt law, while people were more likely to comply with the law on interstates.
Florida enacted its first safety belt law in 1986, and even then motorists could only be cited for not wearing seat belts if a law enforcement officer pulled them over for another violation. It was not until 23 years later, in 2009, that Florida made it possible for state and local police to stop and cite drivers solely for not wearing a seat belt. Today, officers are actively on the lookout for those violating the state’s safety belt law.
Being cited for a seat belt violation may have a negative effect on your car insurance premium. But even more costly, not wearing a seat belt can mean the difference between life and death in an accident.
From Largey Law’s offices in Clermont, Inverness and Tavares, we represent individuals who are injured in motor vehicle accidents and we help drivers to fight traffic violations of all kinds. If you are in need of a determined lawyer to take your case, contact us online. We offer a free initial consultation to new clients.