Primary seat belt law a good change

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2006

Like many of you, perhaps, we&8217;re from the old school South. We don&8217;t particularly like anyone telling us what we must do. Being directed to do something without having a say is like fingernails raked across a blackboard &8212; irritating.

The only thing worse than an unsolicited directive is when it comes from the government. We&8217;re adamant supporters of an individual&8217;s right to make his or her own choices.

But we&8217;re going to make an exception now. We like the latest state law that will go into effect on Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

Mississippi is one of approximately half of the states to create a primary seat belt law.

While seat belt use has been mandatory for years in Mississippi, the law has never had much teeth. Law enforcement officers could only issue citations to drivers not wearing their seat belts when those drivers were pulled over for another offense.

Obviously, despite reports showing that seat belt use saves lives, Mississippi had the lowest usage rate of any state in 2005.

In other words, a police officer driving down the road who saw four or five unrestrained children riding down the road was not allowed to pull over the driver unless the driver was speeding or performed some other offense.

Starting Saturday, all of that changes. Mississippi&8217;s new law will give officers the power to stop seat belt violators in their tracks.

Violators can be pulled over and fined $25. While the $25 isn&8217;t large enough to deter most hard-headed lawbreakers, it&8217;s a start.

If the new law saves one life, it&8217;s well worth the effort.