In this upcoming legislation session, debate will again take place regarding a bill that would enact a primary seat belt law. Although this bill has been quite controversial in its current form, I believe that there may be some public health and public safety issues that this legislation could and must addressed. The statistics regarding seat belt use make an obvious conclusion: keeping yourself and your passengers buckled saves lives. It is an unfortunate statistic but more than six motorists are ejected from their vehicles every day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts alone. Massachusetts stands with Mississippi in the lowest seat belt compliance rate in the country. In 2003, approximately 2,400 persons were ejected from the car during a crash in our state. In the year 2000, every Massachusetts teenager between the ages of 16-18 that was killed in an automobile crash were unbelted. According to AAA, states like Maryland, New York and Connecticut, who have a primary seat belt law, see motorists buckling simply to avoid being cited. Furthermore according to AAA, it is estimated that for every one percent increase in belt use, Massachusetts will save lives, prevent 158 injuries and avoid $17.6 million in unnecessary Healthcare and associated costs.
I know that there are some constituents who maintain that buckling up is a personal choice; but unbelted passengers or drivers do pose a substantial risk to those around them, and even those in the same automobile that may be belted. Statistics gathered from crime scene investigations show that unbelted drivers as well as unbelted passengers can become deadly projectiles and are more than likely going to not only harm themselves but the people traveling with