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Safety, not tages, are key to seat belt use

Imagine for a minute that you and your neighbor both have a mini van. You’re leaving your houses at the same time. You get in your van, pull your seat belt across your lap and ‘click it’ into place. Your neighbor, on the other hand, has already pulled out of his driveway, heading toward his destination, with his seat belt dangling from its holder.
Why is that?
There are at least a couple of reasons why some drivers take the extra few seconds to be properly secured in a vehicle while others don’t, but the valid reason here is because your neighbor has a ‘truck’ plate on his van and believes he is exempt from the seat belt law.
While vehicle owners are within their legal right to purchase truck plates for their mini vans or sport utility vehicles, there is disagreement whether they are exempt from wearing their seat belts, as the state law is written.
It never has made sense to me that a six-by-12-inch piece of metal should determine whether adult passengers have to buckle up. Any vehicle on the road is at risk of being in an accident and having its occupants injured or killed, regardless of what type of license plate is on it. But the current state law has a loophole that some people use to suit their own belief and has resulted in different interpretation of how to enforce the law.
That, we hope, is about to change. Indiana lawmakers, once again, are looking into closing, or at least ‘tightening,’ that loophole. Last month, the Senate, by a 34-16 vote, passed S.B. 7 that would require every occupant of a motor vehicle, regardless of how it’s tagged, to wear a seat belt. (Of course, as with most anything, there are exceptions, for example, mail carriers, EMTs tending to patients enroute. The proposed exceptions remain pretty much the same as those in the existing law.)
Studies have shown that wearing seat belts save lives. They also help reduce injuries. All because the belt holds a person in place during impact rather than allowing them to be a moving object inside a vehicle, susceptible to hitting things, like the steering wheel, dash or windshield, or worse, being ejected.
I know some of you refuse to wear a seat belt ‘ or you buckle up with protest ‘ because you don’t think the government has the right to tell you what to do. You need to remember that driving is a privilege, not a right. There are probably other things required by the government that you do, whether you agree with them or not, but this is one that actually could be a matter of life or death.
We hope the House follows the Senate and passes the bill that requires all motorists who drive on our highways, from county roads to interstates, to buckle up. This is especially crucial as the number of vehicles on our roads increase and as our legislators are also considering raising the speed limit on our interstates. Requiring everyone to wear seat belts will not only save lives, it will help reduce insurance costs and will clarify a law police officers are sworn to enforce.

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