Wis. State Patrol: Drivers Responsible for Unbuckled Passengers

By KBJR News 1

Wis. State Patrol: Drivers Responsible for Unbuckled Passengers

February 28, 2013 Updated Feb 28, 2013 at 4:20 PM CDT

Spooner, WI (NNCNOW.com) -- Wisconsin's State Patrol law of the month pertains to drivers and unbuckled passengers.

Like an airline pilot, all drivers must ensure that all their passengers are buckled up before departing for their destination whether they’re traveling just down the road or across the state. In fact, drivers may be charged with a safety belt violation for each unbuckled passenger.

If a child is unrestrained in a vehicle, the cost to the driver will increase significantly. A violation of child safety restraint requirements costs from $150 to $263 depending on the age of the child and the number of offenses within a three-year period.

Passengers who are unbuckled are extremely vulnerable to serious injury or death in a crash even at relatively low speeds. In 2012, there was a dramatic 37 percent increase in fatalities for passengers in automobiles and light trucks compared with the previous year, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.

"The significant increase in passengers’ deaths in 2012 indicates that there were far too many vehicle occupants who likely died because they were not wearing safety belts and consequently were ejected from their vehicle or thrown around violently inside it during crashes," says State Patrol Lieutenant Dori Petznick of the Northwest Region. "In addition, unrestrained passengers have been known to smash with massive force into other occupants causing serious or fatal injuries."

To increase compliance with the mandatory safety belt law, the State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies continue to crack down on unbelted drivers and passengers.