Tennessee celebrates 30 years of seat belt enforcement - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tennessee celebrates 30 years of seat belt enforcement

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

For 30 years the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and State of Tennessee has worked diligently to increase safety on the roadways and save lives by increasing their efforts to get motorists to buckle up.

This year, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office is once again partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety office to increase seat belt enforcement from May 23-June 5, coinciding with one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

This year is the 30 year anniversary of seat belt legislation when the state first enacted a mandatory seat belt law in 1986. In 2004, the law was updated to make seat belt violations a primary offense. It was last updated in 2015 to double the fine for seat belt violations.

According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, 343 people were killed in traffic crashes last year that were not wearing a seat belt. With Tennessee being classified as a "low use" state, with an 86.2 percent seat belt use rate, Tennessee Highway Safety Office Interim Director Jason Ivey said nighttime seat belt enforcement is a focus.

"We are putting an emphasis on nighttime seat belt enforcement," Ivey said. "The problem of unbelted vehicle occupants becomes worse at night. Nationally, 59 percent of vehicle occupants who were killed in traffic crashes overnight in 2013 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash, compared to 43 percent during daytime hours. We are observing a similar trend at the statewide level. Looking at the last five years of data, there are significant differences in restraint use at night versus during the day."

For more information on seat belt safety, click here.

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