Sixteen states representing more than half the nation's population have passed mandatory-seat-belt laws. However, only six of the 16 states, with just 24% of the nation's population, have enacted laws that clearly conform to the standards laid down by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole--authority for police to stop violators who aren't buckled up and fines of at least $25. Most of the new laws are limited to "secondary enforcement," which means a summons for failure to wear belts can be issued only if a car is stopped for another infraction. Also, many fines are less than $25. In July, 1984, Dole ruled that unless states containing at least 67% of the population enact strict laws requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up, Washington would mandate that 10% of 1987 model cars contain "passive restraints." These are either air bags or automatic seat belts. The proportion of new cars rises to 100% by the 1990 model year. The auto industry formed Traffic Safety Now (TSN), an organization to prod the state legislatures to pass seat-belt laws. State legislators are predicting, however, that Dole will soften her position. Should she stand fast, Detroit will have to begin installing the bags and automatic belts by next fall. Auto makers say that since customers dislike them, the devices probably will be installed in cheaper and less popular models. The final result could be a real muddle--a hodgepodge of state seat-belt laws that contain few teeth and a federal restraints rule that many people find intrusive.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    US News and World Report Incorporated

    599 Lexington Avenue
    New York, NY  United States  10022
  • Authors:
    • Seamonds, J A
  • Publication Date: 1985-10-21

Media Info

  • Features: Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 55
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00495579
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-039 457
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 31 1990 12:00AM