Posted on Dec 19, 2009

No matter where you stand on the mandatory seat belt law in Wisconsin you can be pulled over if a police officer believes that you or your passenger are not wearing seat belts.  In fact, you may have firsthand experience with the relatively new law.

According to an analysis of local law enforcement agencies the number of seat belt violations has risen dramatically.  

Compared to the same time period in 2008 the Rock County Sheriff's Office has issued close to three times as many seat belt tickets.  The current law, which allows officers to stop and ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt, has given police another way to encourage seat belt use.

According to Sgt. Chad Pearson of the Janesville Police Department officers within the Department are on the lookout for seat belt violators.

"It gives us another avenue to try and enforce our traffic laws," Pearson said.  "Traffic enforcement helps deter other criminal activity."

 Lawmakers passed the law to help increase seat belt use in the state.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Wisconsin's seat belt use rate is about 74 percent.  This number is well below the national average of 83 percent and places the state at 44th in seat belt use.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that if there is just a ten percent increase in safety belt use 44 lives will be saved and 650 injuries will be prevented each year.  

Dennis Hughes hopes that this statistic can become a reality in Wisconsin.

"That's the real point of this-to save lives-but you're not going to save lives unless people buckle up."