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Jim Lewis
Jim Lewis
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Legislators Consider Making Seat Belt Laws Stricter in Virginia

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A bill is working its way through the General Assembly that would make failing to wear a seatbelt a primary offense in the Commonwealth, according to Tidewater News.

Virginia (VA) seat belt laws are some of the most lax in the southeast. Not wearing a seat belt is a secondary offense which means a police officer can only cite you for the infraction if you perform another illegal act such as speeding or making an illegal U-turn.

Most states around Virginia have seat belt laws that are deemed a primary offense including Maryland (MD) and North Carolina (NC).

Currently, 63 percent of people killed in car wrecks failed to wear a seat belt, according to car-accidents.com. On average, inpatient hospital care costs for a car crash victim who failed to wear their seat belt are double compared to a crash victim who was wearing their seat belt. Nearly 85 percent of those costs are paid for by American taxpayers, not the individuals involved in the car crash which means every U.S. citizen pays nearly $600 a year toward the cost of serious vehicle wrecks.

Roughly 80 percent of Virginians wear their seat belts, but this number needs to be higher, which is why Del. William Barlow (D-Smithfield) introduced the bill. He is confident it will become state law.

For me, it is a bill that should be passed in this session, said Barlow. It does not cost any money and saves citizens a lot of money because of injury and death.

Heres a link to actual text of the bill (HB901)

I applaud Del. Barlows legislative initiative. The fact that were one of the few states in the south to have secondary offense seat belt laws is unacceptable, especially given the startling statistics on motorists killed who were not wearing their seat belt. Hopefully, Del. Barlow is right and this bill will become law.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.