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Tennessee Lawmakers Encourage Automobile Safety Through Increased Seatbelt Fines

seatbelt-1314338It is widely agreed that a failure to wear a seatbelt while driving is one of the leading causes of fatalities in automobile accidents. Yet state patrol officers in Tennessee continue to report large numbers of drivers and passengers who choose not to wear their seatbelts while on Tennessee roadways. In an effort to further encourage seatbelt use and reduce fatality rates, the Tennessee legislature has implemented a new punishment for those who ignore these precautions:  increased fines for those who fail to abide by Tennessee’s seatbelt laws.

For several decades now, studies and governmental investigations have repeatedly revealed the importance of seatbelt use in protecting drivers and passengers from accidental ejection from a vehicle during an accident, as well as from being unnecessarily injured in an accident. In 2015 alone, the Tennessee State Patrol has reported that at least 300 individuals who were not wearing seatbelts have been killed in Tennessee automobile accidents. Nationally, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that 53 percent of individuals killed in car crashes were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident. It is also estimated that seatbelt use saves over 13,000 lives a year.

Tennessee first enacted a law requiring all automobile passengers to wear seatbelts while driving several years ago. If they were stopped on the roadway without wearing a seatbelt, drivers and passengers could be subject to seatbelt citations, resulting in minor fines of $10 for first-time offenders and $25 for repeat offenders. Although these initial measures had some effect on seatbelt use, Tennessee police officers continue to issue an alarming number of citations each year. By the end of 2015, it is estimated that more than 110,000 seatbelt citations will be issued.

As part of a renewed effort to combat unnecessary automobile accident fatalities, Tennessee lawmakers have recently enacted a new piece of legislation aimed at increasing fines for drivers and passengers who fail to wear a seatbelt, and incentivizing Tennesseans to take this simple step to protect themselves while on the road. The law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2016, will raise fines from $10 to $20 for first-time seatbelt offenders, and from $25 to $50 for those who violate the law more than once. While these increases will not break the bank for most Tennessee drivers, lawmakers hope that they will be enough to more substantially reduce the number of seatbelt citations issued in 2016. If not, they have not ruled out further penalties for uncooperative drivers.

If you have been involved in an accident in which you or a passenger were not wearing a seatbelt, or a fatality occurred during an accident in which you were involved, experienced automobile accident attorney Eric Beasley can assist you in evaluating your potential liability or claims that you may have against other parties in your accident. For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and obtain compensation for injuries you may have experienced, contact the Law Office of Eric Beasley at 615-859-2223 or online.

Related Blog Posts:

Improving Driver Safety in Tennessee By Reducing Cell Phone Use, Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, December 4, 2015

Product Defects and Personal Injury – Tennessee Supreme Court Allows Auto Accident Case To Move Forward, Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, November 30, 2015

Taking Legal Measures to Protect Auto Accident Victims, Tennessee Personal Injury Blog, November 12, 2015