Bucks ‘n’ Clucks for Buckle-Ups: Maryland Praised for Novel Approaches to Promoting Seat Belt Use

Maryland is among the states being praised by the national Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) for getting creative when it comes to promoting seat belt use, in an effort to reduce Maryland car crash injuries and deaths.

The Maryland Highway Safety Office (HSO) has partnered with 7-Eleven convenience stores and Chick-fil-A chicken restaurants, which have donated gift cards for buckled-up motorists checked at Maryland seat belt checkpoints. The HSO is running a second incentive program called “Buckle Up for a Buck,” where police give a dollar to motorists who are observed wearing their seat belts; banks donated the bucks. Both programs involve the charity of Maryland businesses and reward citizens for wearing their seat belts without draining federal or state dollars. (Source: GHSA Press Release, “States Launch Massive Seat Belt Use Crackdown,” May 24, 2010.)

Any experienced Harford County, Maryland car accident attorney will tell you: Maryland seat belt laws aren’t in place to encroach on anyone’s freedom or to wrinkle their neatly pressed work clothes. Seat belts save lives. They prevent serious injuries that can occur in Maryland traffic accidents, including devastating and often fatal spine and head injury.

Maryland is among the states participating in a national Click It or Ticket campaign. In Maryland in 2007, there were 615 deaths resulting from 100,943 traffic accidents that were reported to the police; deaths include motor vehicle drivers, passengers, as well as motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians killed in Md car crashes.

That same year (2007), Maryland’s safety belt use rate was 93.1 percent — a rate that had increased over the previous five years, as the numbers of Maryland traffic accident deaths decreased. (Source: Maryland Highway Safety Office, State of Maryland FFY 2009 Highway Safety Plan.) Maryland has a primary seat belt law which requires adults and young adults ages 16 and over to wear front-seat seatbelts, with a $25 maximum fine for first offense. Separate safety laws are in place regarding seat belts, car seats, and restraints for youth, children, and infants riding in motor vehicles in Maryland.

Related Web Resources

Click It or Ticket: 2010 Mobilization State Activities

GHSA: State Seat Belt Laws

Maryland State Highway Administration