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Seat belt law focuses on wrong thing

February 26, 2009 - Frank Robinson
March is right around the corner. That means tax season is getting closer to being over, winter is turning into spring, and the seat belt law in Ohio is getting ready to change.

For now, the seat belt law is at the top of my list. The seasons will come in a later blog.

I will go out on a limb right now and say officials with the state of Ohio will pass the necessary paperwork to change the seat belt law. Why? Because they want the federal money that comes with it.

There always seem to be strings attached when it comes to federal highway safety dollars. Ohio is one of 15 states currently considering making the change. Currently there are 26 states and the District of Columbia that have what's called primary seat-belt enforcement laws, meaning police can stop a driver for a seat belt violation, even if it the only violation the officers notice. Currently in Ohio, you can only be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt as a secondary offense, say, after getting pulled over for speeding. That has happened to me about 10 years ago, and I paid a lot for forgetting to put on my seat belt.

According to a story by the Associated Press, "States without primary seat-belt enforcement that want the federal money must pass a bill and have it signed by the governor by June 30 -- and begin issuing citations by Sept. 30 -- to qualify for federal funds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration."

I know seat belts save lives. But why make it the law, and in this case a primary offense. Police should have more important things to worry about. If I have a wreck and the other guy is not wearing a seat belt and is injured because of that bad decision, so be it. It didn't affect me one way or the other.

Instead of concentrating on seat belts, why not focus on other safety issues? I would like to be assured that the guy tailgating me has brakes that work properly. I want to know that the guy ahead of has tires that are not bald, or the gal I expect to stop at the stop sign has turn signals and brake lights that work.

People not doing common sense maintenance on their cars -- tires, brakes and lights -- have the potential of causing harm to me when I'm driving. That should be the focus. I will have my seat belt on. They might have their seat belt on. I don't care if that other driver is buckled up when they blow a tire and hit me head on at about 60 mph. Get my point?


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