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DOT 62-09
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Contact: Mark Paustenbach
Telephone: (202) 366-9550

LaHood Applauds New Florida Primary Seat Belt Law

Florida now eligible for more than $35 million in federal funds

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today applauded Florida for enacting a new primary seat belt law that is expected to save the lives of more than one hundred Floridians each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use is the most effective protection against serious crash injuries, reducing the risk by 50 percent.

Primary seat belt laws enable police officers to stop a driver and write a citation if they see a violation, as they do for other traffic infractions. Secondary seat belt laws only allow the officer to write a ticket if the driver is stopped for another traffic violation.

"We are pleased that Florida has joined the 27 other states that have adopted primary seat belt laws to save lives on their highways," said Secretary LaHood. "Wearing your seat belt is vitally important and helps determine whether someone will ultimately walk away from a crash."

The new law also makes Florida eligible to receive $35.5 million in federal incentive funds.

Primary seat belt laws have a proven track record of increasing state seat belt use rates. In 2008, the average seat belt use rate in states with primary enforcement laws was 13 percentage points higher than in states with secondary enforcement laws. NHTSA estimates that, with the passage of its primary belt law, Florida will save 124 lives, prevent 1,733 serious injuries, and save $408 million in associated costs each year.