them. For example, we all know how important it is to secure a baby into a car seat. However, if the parent, or driver, does not, then that parent becomes a danger to that child. To have a adult thrown around in a car, that baby, no matter how tightly strapped in, potentially can get severely hurt or even killed by that adult. The enactment of a primary seatbelt law could send a clear message that compliance with the mandatory seat belt law is essential to the safety or everyone on our roadways.
Massachusetts motorists who survive unbelted crashes can primarily credit our tremendous EMS system. However, survivors often have serious disabling injuries, such as spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. In 2000, of the 1,127 persons admitted to hospitals from car crashes with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries, 11.1% (125) were Medicaid enrollees. As a result MassHealth spent $5.9 million dollars on just the immediate acute care of these patients alone. Each year, unbelted car crashes expand the enrollment in Medicaid, committing the state to a lifetime of support for those permanently disabled. More than half of the increase in MassHealth spending during the past 5 years is attributed to services for non-elderly disabled.
Many lawyers who object to making seat belts a primary offense rationalize their position by stating that the last thing we need to do is to give our law enforcement officials another reason to be able to pull us over. With the proposed legislation as drafted, this bill will not expand Massachusetts police power under existing law. The police already have in excess of 200 reasons to stop a vehicle. This bill allows an officer who observes a driver or front seat