Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Contact: Karen Aldana
TOPEKA, Kan. – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator Ron Medford today presented a check for nearly $11.2 million to Governor Mark Parkinson and Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller in recognition of the state’s strengthened seat belt law. The money can be used for law enforcement, safety improvements on roadways, and to educate the public on safe driving practices.
Kansas’ new primary seat belt law allows police officers to stop and ticket drivers if front-seat vehicle occupants are not wearing seat belts. Previously, officers could only ticket violators if the driver was stopped for another traffic infraction. The law also applies to anyone under age 18 not wearing seat belts.
“Seat belts save lives, but they only work if you wear them,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Wearing a seat belt can make the difference between life and death in a crash, so always buckle up on every trip, every time.”
“With the passage of its primary belt law, Kansas can expect to increase its belt use by approximately nine percentage points, cut annual fatalities in passenger cars and light trucks by eight percent, and reduce serious injuries throughout the state,” said Medford.
Traffic crashes cost the nation about $230 billion each year in medical expenses, lost productivity, property damage and related costs. Kansas pays $1.9 billion of these costs, amounting to about $700 for every resident of the state, each year.
Medford noted that seat belts are the single most effective piece of safety equipment in a vehicle, and reduce the risk of serious crash injuries by 50 percent.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 seat belt laws.