One of the more than 200 laws that took effect on New Year's Day in Illinois is looking to make vehicle passengers safer. The new law says that all passengers inside of a vehicle, whether sitting in the front or the back, must wear their seat belts. If all passengers are not abiding by the statute, police now have the ability to pull the vehicle over and issue citations.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause someone in the back seat of a vehicle to become airborne, potentially launching them into others currently in the vehicle. This likelihood for injuries and fatalities was the main reason behind the introduction of this legislation.
Besides the ability to injure others, people who choose not to wear a seat belt can be more likely to suffer abdominal, chest and head trauma.
Before this law was enacted, passengers riding in the back of a vehicle over the age of 18 could choose whether or not to wear their seat belts. Deciding not to wear their seatbelt was a risk that some were willing to take and it was considered legal at the time. Now, anyone caught without a seat belt will be subjected to a $25 fine. If court costs become a factor, this amount can grow rather quickly.
According to statistics, most people killed in car accidents are sitting in the front of the vehicle. Despite this, nearly two-thirds of back-seat passenger fatalities involve a lack of seat belts.
The police chief of Naperville, Illinois said that the new legislation is a good thing and it will likely cause the roads to become safer for the public.
At least one state representative disagreed with the passing of the law. Her argument was that the resources and time spent chasing people without seat belts would be better used chasing individuals suspected of committing more serious crimes.
Source: Naperville Sun, "2012 brings more than 200 new laws to state," Jan. 1, 2012