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New Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law Annoys Florida Drivers

A new law allowing police to pull over drivers not wearing a seat belt left some Florida drivers disgruntled, Florida Today reported July 1. The primary enforcement law, as it is called, is a change from Florida’s old seat belt law. Before, not wearing a seat belt could still get you a $10 ticket, but police could only write that ticket after pulling drivers over for another reason. Now, drivers can be pulled over and handed a ticket if law enforcement spots them without a seat belt on. Prices for the tickets vary, and officers issued a lot of verbal warnings on the first day of the new law, but Florida Today said the Brevard County tickets will be $104.

Many drivers interviewed by the newspaper were unhappy about the new law. One woman interviewed said she believed seat belts should be a choice for people age 18 or older. Another said she thought that because motorcyclists are not required to wear a helmet, drivers should have a choice about their seat belts. Palm Bay traffic officer Mike Veina said the point of the law is not to generate revenue from tickets — another common complaint — but to save lives. He pointed out that airbags, another life-saving device, can actually be harmful in slow speed-crashes because they are designed to work in tandem with seat belts. The article said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that tracks accident statistics, estimates that about 140 Floridians a year are killed because they failed to wear seat belts.

I sympathize with the argument that adults should have the right to choose whether to wear seat belts (or motorcycle helmets). But as a Hollywood auto accident lawyer, I know all too well that a seat belt can make the difference between death or serious injury and minor injuries in a serious accident. In an accident, seat belts help prevent occupants from hitting the hard (and sometimes jagged) interior of the vehicle and from being thrown from the vehicle, which cuts down substantially on brain damage, spinal injuries and other serious injuries. The NHTSA estimates that seat belts cut the risk of death by 45% to 65%, depending on the vehicle and the passenger’s position inside it. Faced with numbers like that, I believe the smart choice is to buckle up, regardless of whether a law is forcing me to.

If you’ve been hurt in a Florida traffic accident that was someone else’s fault, you have the right to hold that person legally liable for your injuries — regardless of whether you were wearing a seat belt. In a Plantation car crash lawsuit, you can claim all of your injuries and costs from the accident. That includes financial costs, such as past and future medical treatment, repair bills and lost income from time out of work. It also includes compensation for your injuries, pain, suffering and any permanent disability or wrongful death in your family. At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we have more than 25 years of experience helping Floridians in this situation to get full compensation and avoid dirty tricks from insurance companies.

If you’re considering a Hialeah car wreck lawsuit and you’d like to learn more, you should contact Cohn, Smith & Cohn today for a free, confidential consultation. You can contact us online or call our main office at (954) 431-8100.

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