Time and again, research has demonstrated the importance of seat belt use. Decades of studies conducted by hundreds of different researchers has consistently demonstrated that injuries sustained in a car accident are more serious, and more likely to be fatal, if the victim isn't wearing a seat belt at the time of impact. Passenger injuries can also be exacerbated by use of a defective seat belt.
The CDC Tackles Seat Belt Use
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations for state law enforcement policies that can be used to increase seat belt use. This is because, like other injuries and illnesses, lack of seat belt use has become a major public health risk, which has been determined worthy of the CDC’s time and public awareness efforts. The CDC recommends that states both strengthen existing seat belt laws and promote enhanced enforcement efforts for existing laws in order to increase seat belt use among drivers and passengers.
Ohio has seat belt laws which apply to both drivers and passengers. Road users should be aware of their obligations under Ohio law - not only to avoid fines and consequences, but also to increase their chances of surviving an auto accident. Section 4513.263 requires drivers, front seat passengers, and minor children to wear seat belts any time a vehicle is in operation. The section also makes lack of seat belt use a secondary offense. This means that a police officer cannot stop a driver only for a seat belt violation.
If another traffic violation is observed, the vehicle can be stopped, and a seat belt citation can be issued in addition to any other traffic citations. But a seat belt violation cannot be the sole reason for the stop. The CDC has recommended that states forego secondary enforcement laws such as this in favor of primary enforcement laws (which allow officers to stop drivers for seat belt violations even when no other violations occur). This is because seat belt use is higher in states with primary enforcement laws than secondary enforcement laws.
Defective Seat Belts and Accident Injury
Even drivers and passengers who do use seat belts can be placed at increased risk of injury and death if the seat belt is defective. Major car manufacturers have issued many recalls over defective seat belts in recent years. These recalls are expensive and can span the entire country, but they are conducted because the cost of recall is still less expensive than the cost of paying thousands of personal injury and wrongful death settlements.
Consumerist reports that Ford issued a recall of 117,000 trucks and SUVs in July 2017. These vehicles had defective seat backs, seat belts, and seat belt buckles, which compromised the structural integrity of the entire seat belt system. Despite having no reports of injuries related to these seat belts, Ford nonetheless issued a preventative recall due to the possibility that the seat belts would not perform effectively in a sudden stop or crash.
In such a case, a Cleveland car accident attorney could help an injury victim establish a products liability claim against the auto manufacturer. Contact Merriman Legal, LLC and find out how we can help you.