Stricter State Seatbelt Laws May Lead to Fewer Auto Accident Injuries Sustained by Teens

Parents of teenage drivers may be relieved to learn that teen drivers and passengers are more likely to use seat belts if they’re in states with primary-enforcement seat belt laws, often promoted as “click it or ticket” laws, a new study finds. This likely hood may also lead to a lessening of injuries sustained by teens in the unfortunate event that they are involved in an auto accident.

These seatbelt laws, which are sometimes referred to as “click it or ticket” laws may be implemented as either primary to secondary laws. A primary law allows police to stop and ticket drivers solely for not wearing a seat belt. Under a secondary law, police can only ticket unbelted drivers if they are stopped for other reasons, such as speeding.
Primary seat belt laws have been proven to reduce death rates in traffic collisions, according to the report published in the April 19th online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

According to, in the new study, researchers examined data from more than 3,000 U.S. high school student drivers who took part in the 2006 National Young Driver Survey. The analysis revealed that teens in states with secondary laws were 12 percent less likely to wear a seat belt when driving and 15 percent less likely to do so as a passenger than teens in states with primary laws.

In addition, the investigators found that in states with secondary laws, teens’ use of seat belts decreased as they progressed from learner to unrestricted license holder. This did not occur in states with primary laws. Thus, it appears that primary seatbelt laws are more effective in deterring teens from driving without seatbelts.

“This study showed that primary-enforcement safety belt laws may play a key role in mitigating the disparity in safety belt use among certain teenaged subpopulation groups,” lead study author Dr. J. Felipe Garcia-Espana, of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a journal news release.

“Because some teenaged subpopulations have lower safety belt use, even with primary enforcement laws, combined approaches that include upgrades to laws with campaigns and enforcement might be warranted,” the study authors concluded.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), another approach that may likely be helpful in preventing teens from driving without seatbelts, and this increasing their risk for auto accident related injury, may be parent involvement and encouragement. In an article published by the agency, which cites car crashes as the number 1 killer of teens in the U.S., the CDC suggests that if parents set and enforce “rules of the road,” including seatbelt usage, this may prevent auto accident related injuries and deaths suffered by thousands of teens each year.

As a Georgia car accident lawyer, with several years of experience representing individuals who have suffered injuries related to car accidents, I agree that all drivers should take the necessary precautions in order to prevent injury. However, if you or a family member has been injured as the result of an accident that was the fault of another, you should contact an experienced auto accident attorney for help.

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