Monday, June 22, 2009

Buckle up, Collier County.

Beginning June 30, law enforcement officers in Florida will be able to pull over drivers and their passengers simply for not wearing a seat belt. Until now, officers could write seat belt citations only if they had pulled the vehicle over for another offense.

The Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law also removes the exemption for passengers of pickups.

The enhancement of the state’s seat belt law was named in memory of two Florida teens who were killed in separate traffic accidents and died as a result of not wearing their seat belts.

“Wearing a seat belt is the single most important thing a person can do that significantly improves the likelihood that they will not be injured or killed in a crash,” said Sgt. Chris Gonzalez of CCSO’s Safety Traffic Enforcement Bureau.

Florida joins 26 states that already have primary enforcement of safety belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates primary enforcement will prevent 142 fatalities in Florida every year.

Florida ranks 35th in the nation in safety belt usage, with a usage rate of 79.1 percent.

Collier County has the highest safety belt compliance rate – 92 percent – in the state, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.