A Brief History of Seatbelt Laws in Michigan

In 1982, the secretary of state for Michigan, Richard Austin, recruited David Hollister, a Michigan state house representative to introduce a seat belt bill in the house. The seat belt bill would make it mandatory for drivers and passengers to buckle up when driving. The bill failed to make any inroads as it had no support. At that time, no state in the US had legislated on seat belts.

Strategies Used To Influence the Public to Support the Seat Belt Bill

To garner support for the bill, Hollister and proponents of the bill implemented a number of strategies

· Hollister invited members of the house insurance committee to the General Motors proving ground in Milford and had they seat in speeding cars. The members wore seatbelts to find out its effectiveness.
· The state police used a new and revised accident form which showed whether a person killed in a traffic accident was wearing a seatbelt. These results were often published in the newspaper and showed most people that died were not wearing their safety bells.
· Hospitals had boards on emergency rooms which counted the number of people who died from car accidents and were not wearing their seat belts
· County medical examiner, Beverly Anderson sent cards to members of the house who opposed the seat belt law. The cards had gruesome photos of car wrecks in which occupants died and were not wearing seatbelts. Some of the cards contained photos of dismembered victims
· Campaigns by Michigan insurance industry and the big three automakers ( Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler ) on benefits of enacting seatbelt laws

Acceptance and Implementation of Seat Belt Laws

In January 1985, the Michigan state house passed the seat belt law which made it compulsory for people to buckle up. The state senate approved the bill in February 1985. The implementation began on July 1st 1985.

According to statistics by Michigan state police, the use of seat belts rose to 60% in the first few months after the law came into effect, a rise of over 40% from the previous year. Additionally between July 1st and Nov 30th, 1985, traffic accident deaths reduced by 47 compared to the same period in 1984. In 2009, Michigan seat belt usage was highest in the country, at 97.9%.

Change Form Secondary to Primary Enforcement

The seatbelt law passed in 1985 was only enforceable by the police if one was pulled over for another offence (secondary enforcement). In 2000, the law was amended to primary enforcement where the police have the right to pull you over to check if you have buckled up. If you are involved in a motor accident and it is established that you were in breach of the seatbelt law, it is advisable to contact a car accident attorney. Find out how a car accident lawyer will defend you.

Michigan Current Seat Belt Law

Here is a summary of current Michiganseat belt laws

· Children have to be buckled up until they are 8 years old or 4-foot-9 in height
· Passengers in the front seat have to wear seat belts
· Adults seated in the back are not obligated to wear seat belts
· Children aged 8-15 have to wear seat belts regardless of their sitting positions
· Police have the right to check whether you are wearing your seat belt while driving
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