Seatbelts are an integral part of driving and riding in motor vehicles in the state of Florida. According to the state’s seat belt law, also called “Click It or Ticket”, Florida drivers and passengers must wear their seatbelt at all times while on the roads.
Not wearing your seatbelt will get you in trouble with the law. Moreover, it could also cause serious injury or even fatality in the event of a major accident.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website, on average 41% of fatalities in motor vehicle accidents were the result of people not wearing their seatbelt. The law is in place to prevent and reduce serious injuries or wrongful deaths. Since the implementation of the safety belt law, fatalities in car crashes have gone down over 6%. Statistics say that wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of injury by almost half.
Seatbelts are a key part of your safety- they’re important for preventing serious injuries. Accidents happen, and you should always be prepared for the worst by buckling up.
There are exemptions and specifications to the law, of course. Here is what you need to know about the safety belt laws in Florida, including Palm Beach County, and the injuries the law can prevent.
What to Know: “Click It or Ticket”
“Click It or Ticket” as well as “We Arrive Alive” are phrases commonly associated with the safety belt law. These phrases stem from campaigns done by the Florida Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies. The purpose of the campaigns are to reinforce the fact that these seatbelt requirements can prevent serious, life-threating injuries. The Click It or Ticket Florida campaigns also aim to educate the public on the consequences of not buckling up. The potential consequences include fines or court dates, regardless of sustained injuries.
The law requires drivers and front seat passengers to buckle up. Any passenger under the age of 18 must be strapped in or in a child’s car seat for their safety. This rule applies whether the minor is in the front or backseat.
These laws were set in place in 1986. Since then, they have evolved. They became a primary law in the early 2000s.
Following this safety belt law is crucial. According to the National Safety Council, properly fastened seat belts can reduce the risk of injury or fatality by 45-50%. As of 2017, seatbelt usage has increased to almost 90%. In accordance, unrestrained fatalities have dropped almost 11%.
Are There Exemptions?
In very rare and specific cases, some passengers may not be required to wear safety belts. These special cases, according to the FHSMV, include:
- A person specifically certified by a licensed physician to have a condition that makes wearing a safety belt a hazard to their health. In this instance, you must have the documentation.
- A child under the age of 4 does not have to be in a car seat ONLY if the driver is not a member of the child’s immediate family and are transporting them in case of an emergency or as a favor. If the child is not in a car seat, however, they must wear a buckle.
- Drivers of trucks with a net weight of over 26,000 pounds.
These Florida seat belt law exemptions exist. However, it is still HIGHLY recommended that you buckle up. The only exceptions are those outlined above. Otherwise, the reduced risk of injury in the event of an accident or collision makes this an important decision.
Some people believe there is a different set of rules for backseat passengers. However, the Florida seat belt law regarding backseat passengers has changed. Now, it is required of everyone in the vehicle to buckle up. Besides, that extra protection could save your life.
Seatbelts and Injury Prevention
Wearing your seatbelt will not only save you from some penalties and fines. It could also save your life. Statistics previously mentioned show that proper restraints can reduce your risk of serious injury or even death by nearly 50%. They also show that over 41% of fatalities in recent years have been those who chose not to wear their seatbelts.
What injuries are you saving yourself from?
On the most basic level, accident reports show that many secondary injuries can result from lack of a safety belt. Being unrestrained means your body can be thrown around upon impact. Anything from a concussion to ejection through the windshield could be a direct result of failure to follow the Florida seat belt law. The impact can lead to “secondary injuries”, such as whiplash. The secondary injuries can also be the result of more severe primary injuries resulting from the crash.
Proper seat belt usage prevents serious head injuries. There is no way to anticipate an accident or where it might occur. However, there is a reasonable expectation that impact, large or small, will lead to injuries. Some of the most severe car crashes lead to head injuries, which can range from a mild concussion to traumatic brain injury.
A seat belt can prevent a person from jerking forward and colliding with the interior of the car. It protects them from impact with the steering wheel or the airbag (if the airbag does not deploy). At a minimum, it can significantly reduce the damage of impact and the risk of concussion or brain damage.
Another common outcome of accidents is a collision with an object or another passenger in the vehicle. In these cases, a person might sustain localized injuries. A localized injury may target one area, such as the ribs.
The risk of localized injuries is greater for those who are not using their seatbelts. When you are restrained, the seat belt spreads the shock of impact evenly. It reduces the risk of serious broken bones or internal organ damage in focal points on the body. While the belt will certainly lead to some sore muscles, it is better than broken ribs.
Deceleration involves a sudden change in speed, such as going from in motion to a sudden stop. This is common at particularly high speeds, such as on highways. Deceleration is a common cause of moderate to severe crash-related injuries.
With proper seat belt usage, this change in speed will not be as abrupt. It will not push you as far out of your seat or away from the support of the seat. This can significantly reduce the risk of serious whiplash or other serious injuries.
Injuries to the head or spine can result from aggressive deceleration. These injuries can be fatal or cause lifelong impairment. At a minimum, they involve a lengthy recovery process. Seat belts can reduce that risk.
Ejection from the Vehicle
Ejection from the vehicle is the number one risk of not wearing a seatbelt. In the event of a serious accident, there is a higher likelihood of an unrestrained passenger being ejected from the vehicle.
Ejection can entail a person being thrown through a window or the windshield. The sad reality is that these are the fatalities we often hear about when it comes to major accidents.
It can be difficult to survive the impact of ejection. Secondary injuries can also be severe, including major cuts and head trauma. Ejection can also put the person at risk of being hit by the vehicle or oncoming vehicles even after impact.
No one ever anticipates high-speed collisions or high-impact accidents. However, these are the most dangerous. These are the times you will truly be glad for Florida seat belt laws.
Wear It Right!
A person may have the best intentions and keep all these warnings in mind. However, injuries can still result from improper use of seatbelts. As such, it’s important to know how to position a seatbelt for maximum efficiency and comfort:
- A seat belt needs to lie across your hips, not your stomach.
- It should be fitted but not so tight it feels constricting.
- The shoulder strap should never go behind you or under your arm.
- It needs to be positioned across your shoulder and chest, away from your neck.
With these tips in mind, you can make sure your seat belt is working in your favor and keeping you from serious harm.
Need Legal Assistance?
Despite all our best efforts, accidents happen. Seatbelts can greatly reduce your risk of serious harm or death. However, they cannot solve every problem. Accidents can happen at any time and be minor or severe.
In the event of an accident, it is important to know your legal rights. These include possible compensation for any medical treatments. That seat belt can keep you alive, but it can’t save you from medical bills. An experienced lawyer can help.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 513-4957 now.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.