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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Applauds New Kansas Primary Seat Belt Law

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Ray LaHood

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Applauds New Kansas Primary Seat Belt Law

U.S. Department of Transportation
June 10, 2010

DOT 114-10
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Contact: Julia Piscitelli
Tel.: 202-366-9550

Kansas now eligible for more than $11 million in federal funds

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today applauded Kansas for enacting a new primary seat belt law that is expected to save lives, reduce serious injuries and cut medical and other economic costs by more than $70 million.

The new Kansas law enables police officers to stop and ticket the driver of any passenger car if either the driver or front seat passenger is observed not wearing a seat belt. This law also applies to anyone under age 18. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use is the most effective protection against serious crash injuries, reducing the risk by 50 percent.

"We are pleased that Kansas has joined those states that have adopted primary seat belt laws to save lives," said Secretary LaHood. "Wearing a seat belt can make the difference between life and death in a crash, so always buckle up on every trip, every time.”

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland added, “We applaud Governor Mark Parkinson and the state legislature for stepping up to the plate to make Kansas roads safer. Seat belts have saved more lives than any other piece of safety equipment in the American automobile, but they only work when you wear them.”

NHTSA estimates that, with the passage of its primary belt law, Kansas will increase its belt use by approximately nine percent, cut annual fatalities in passenger cars and light trucks by eight percent and reduce serious injuries.

Traffic crashes cost the nation about $230 billion each year in medical expenses, lost productivity, property damage and related costs. Kansas pays $1.9 billion of these costs, $700 for every resident of Kansas, each year.

The new law makes Kansas eligible to receive $11 million in federal incentive funds from the Department of Transportation. Primary seat belt laws have a proven track record of increasing state seat belt use rates. In 2009, the average seat belt use rate in states with primary enforcement laws was 11 percent higher than in states with secondary enforcement laws.

With the addition of Kansas, 31 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws.

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