Florida drivers should think twice before they pass on wearing their seatbelts.
On June 30, a new seatbelt law went into effect, making it a primary offense not to wear a seatbelt. The change means that law enforcement officers can pull over cars if they spot a driver, front seat passenger or individuals under 18 years old not wearing a seatbelt, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Miller said.
Previously, not wearing a seatbelt was a secondary violation, meaning that officers could only pull cars over moving violations such as speeding or faulty equipment.
“The true purpose (of the law) is to get people to put their seatbelt on and buckle up,” Miller said. “The three seconds that it takes to put a seatbelt on can mean the difference between life and death.”
Currently, Florida has a seatbelt usage rate of 81.7%, just shy of the national average of 83%, Miller said. In states that have a primary seatbelt law, the usage rate increases to 87%.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the change will save 124 lives in Florida each year.