The Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law was enacted in June 2009 and made it a primary offense to not wear a seatbelt while driving. Under the law, all drivers, front seat passengers and passengers under 18 must wear seatbelts, and police officers can pull over drivers for not buckling up.
Anyone in violation of the law — including drivers or passengers — may be fined. If a child under the age of 18 is not restrained, the driver could receive a citation.
The law has had a positive effect so far, as the number of fatalities in which the victim was not wearing a seatbelt has gone down by 6 percent in Florida over the past five years. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Why are seatbelts so important?
When worn correctly, seatbelts have been proven by numerous studies to save lives. A seatbelt prevents you from being ejected from the vehicle, thrown against other surfaces in the vehicle and thrown away from the wheel. Thus, you have a greater ability to maintain control of the vehicle.
Your seatbelt should always be worn with the lap belt around your hips and your shoulder belt across your chest. Tucking the shoulder belt behind you nullifies the safety benefits of the seatbelt — you should not rely on an airbag alone.
For an idea of just how important seatbelt usage is, in Florida, an average of 41 percent of people required to wear seatbelts who were killed in car accidents had chosen not to wear one. This is a significant number of people who possibly would not have died had they just chosen to do something as simple as buckle up.
Parents should constantly model safe driving behavior for children. Buckling up should be a routine part of driving. Until the children are safely buckled in, the vehicle should not begin moving.