Seatbelt Safety

There have been several studies regarding the use of seatbelts throughout the nation. Most of the data suggests the use of seatbelts in passenger vehicles can reduce the risk of injury during a collision. In California there are several laws pertaining to the use of seatbelts including the mandatory seatbelt law. The use of seatbelts has been linked to reducing injuries resulting from traffic collisions; therefore, many law enforcement agencies have conducted specialized enforcements better known by the commercial slogan "click it or ticket." These specialized enforcement efforts are collaborated by the efforts of the California Office of Traffic Safety (O.T.S.).

Objects in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. Of course when Sir Isaac Newton completed his 1687 publication of the Philosophić Naturalis Principia Mathematica the automobile had not been invented. However, Newton's studies with regard to objects in motion remain resourceful and vital to the innovation of safety restraints.

If a vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour (MPH) the occupants, pets, and items inside the vehicle are traveling at 55 MPH. Should the driver for whatever reason lose control of the vehicle, leave the roadway and collide with a large tree, the vehicle will suddenly stop. Although the vehicle has suddenly stopped, the people and/or objects are still traveling at 55 MPH and will not stop until another force; such as, vehicle's dashboard, windshield, or other object acts upon them.

The seatbelt is designed to secure the occupant(s) of a vehicle against harmful movement that may result from a collision with a fixed object or other motor vehicle. Seatbelts are intended to reduce injuries by stopping the occupants from hitting hard interior objects like the vehicle components mentioned above or other passengers. Seatbelts also absorb energy and are designed to stretch during an impact to compensate for the speed differential between the passenger's body and the sudden stopping of the vehicle.

Section 27315(d) (1) of the California Vehicle Code requires any person who is operating a motor vehicle upon a roadway and the passengers over the age of 16-years old to wear seatbelts. It is the driver's responsibility to ensure all passengers under the age of 16 years-old are properly restrained in a safety belt. This same law also requires the occupants "properly" use the safety belts. For example, the wearing a shoulder restraint seatbelt under the arm would constitute a violation of this section.

I have fielded numerous questions regarding child safety seats, which seems to have caused confusion among motorists. The law requires a parent or legal guardian to transport a child in the "rear seat" of their vehicle in a child passenger restraint system, which meets Federal motor vehicle safety standards unless the child meets one of the following conditions: (1) the child is six years of age or older or (2) weighs sixty pounds or more.

For those who don’t own a car or truck with a backseat there is an exception to the law, which allows a child who is neither 6 years-old nor 60 pounds to ride in the front seat of a vehicle. These exceptions are: the rear seats are side-facing jump style seats, the child passenger restraint system cannot be installed properly in the rear seat, the rear seats are already occupied by children under the age of 12 years, or a medical reason necessitates that a child not ride in the rear seat; however, the court may require satisfactory proof of the child's medical condition. These exemptions only refer to transporting children in the front seat. Small children still have to be transported in child safety seats. "They are crucial to the safety of young children during vehicle collisions," says Chief Nanfito of the Red Bluff Police Department.

Please remember to buckle up for safety during this New Year and drive safe!

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