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Police Officers And Seat Belt Use

The McClellan Law Firm

Years of public service campaigns and changes to the law have produced excellent results in getting people to wear seat belts. Studies show that 86 percent of Americans now use seat belts. Increased seat belt use has played a large role in the steady reduction in traffic accident deaths over the years. Unfortunately, seat belt use has not gained similar acceptance among law enforcement officers. The gap is leading to injuries and deaths for too many officers.

According to California's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, approximately 50 percent of law enforcement officers do not wear seat belts. That is a likely contributor to traffic-related fatalities. In 2012, 37 percent of the police officers who suffered vehicle accidents in 2012 were not wearing their seat belts, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Traffic accidents have been the number one cause of death for on-duty officers in 14 of the last 15 years. Those concerned with officer safety are taking steps to encourage greater seat belt use.

While members of the public are required by law to wear seat belts, police officers are exempted from those rules. Regardless of the law, seat belt use is still a vital factor in surviving a car accident. Police officers have more first-hand experience than most in dealing with the grisly aftermath of car accidents. Drivers and passengers who do not wear belts are more likely to be ejected from a vehicle in a crash. The survival rate for those thrown from a vehicle during an accident is not good. Roughly three out of four people ejected during a crash die from their injuries.

Source: NBC 7 San Diego, " Seat Belt Study: Most California Peace Officers Don't Buckle Up," 11 December 2013