It is common knowledge that the simple act of wearing a seatbelt can save a life if an accident were to occur. It is also common knowledge that children who ride in booster-seats or who are old enough to wear a seatbelt should do so in an effort to prevent a fatal car accident in the event of a crash. However, despite this information, Ohio is the only state in which seatbelt and booster-seat infractions for children are only secondary offenses.
A secondary offense is a violation that, on its own, is not enough for an officer of the law to pull a car over. If another reason for the officer to pull a vehicle over presents itself, then the seatbelt violation can be an added charge. Even then, the violation is only punishable by an up to $75 fee.
Several state legislators are now trying to push bills similar to those used in all other states requiring seatbelt violations for all children 15 years old and under to be primary offenses. If the bill became a law, it would allow the authorities to pull over vehicles carrying young children who are not wearing seatbelts in an effort to avoid a tragic fatal accident. In 2013, out of over 25,000 accidents in which child passengers were involved, 880 of those children were not wearing seatbelts.
Many people believe that this statistic indicates that the law governing seatbelt use for children in Ohio needs to change. A tougher law could mean saving children’s lives. That being said, any family who has suffered the loss of a child in a fatal car accident, possibly to a seatbelt malfunction or the negligence of another motorist, has the right to file for a civil suit in an effort to secure a judgment for financial damages occasioned by their loss.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Tougher law sought on child seat-belt violations“, Kristen Mitchell, May 26, 2014