Starved For Cash, States Ready To Buckle Up


More than a dozen cash-strapped states are considering complying with a federal seat belt mandate to become eligible for millions in federal money, reports the Associated Press. One of those states is Ohio, which would get $26.8 million if it changes its law. Currently, officers in the state must first have some other reason to stop drivers over before issuing seat-belt citations. States without primary seat-belt enforcement that want the federal money must pass a bill and have it signed by the governor by June 30 and begin issuing citations by Sept. 30 to qualify for federal funds.

The money attached to seat-belt enforcement can only be spent for highway-related projects. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia already have primary seat-belt enforcement laws, meaning police can stop a vehicle for a seat belt violation, even if this is the only violation the officers notice. A 2008 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said states with primary enforcement seat belt laws are averaging about 13 percentage points higher for seat belt use — 88 percent — than states with secondary enforcement laws — 75 percent.

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