It is likely not going to be one of the most popular laws in the state of Kansas, but it’s not really necessary that good laws win a popularity contest. Beginning July 1, all drivers and front seat passengers in the state of Kansas will have to wear seatbelts. Governor Mark Parkinson has just signed the new primary seat belt law, and it will go into effect on the 1 of July. Kansas is now the 31st state in the US to have primary seat belt laws.
This was a law that was a long time coming. Thus far, Kansas only had secondary seat belt laws, which meant that police officers had to first pull a motorist over for another violation, before ticketing him for failure to wear a seat belt. As a Kansas accident lawyer, I know for a fact that we have lost thousands of lives over the past years, simply because of failure to enforce primary seat belt laws.
This failure to require seatbelts for all drivers and front seat passengers has not only cost us lives, but has also cost us precious highway safety funds from federal authorities. Thanks to the new seat belt law, Kansas will now be eligible for federal highway funds amounting to approximately $11 million. Of these funds, $10 million will go to the state’s general funds, while $1 million will be used for highway safety efforts.
The simple fact is that seatbelt usage is often the only factor between you and catastrophic injury or instantaneous death in an accident. As a Kansas accident attorney, I have long called for primary belt laws in the state. Kansas has some of the lowest seatbelt usage rates in the country, hovering at about 77% compared to the national average of approximately 84%. Seat belt usage rates are even lower in rural areas where motorists and passengers are at a high risk of accidents because of badly designed, poorly maintained roads, and drunk driving. With this law, I expect compliance rates to increase.