In 2013, the West Virginia Legislature adopted House Bill 2108 to remind drivers and passengers to “buckle up.” After numerous attempts, the bill passed during the 2013 Legislative Session to make not wearing a seat belt a primary offense in West Virginia. Prior to 2013, West Virginia had secondary enforcement of the seatbelt law since 1993.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a seat belt is one of the most effective methods for saving lives and reducing injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes. Seat belts prevent 11,900 deaths and 325,000 serious injuries annually and, if all vehicle occupants used seat belts, an additional 9,200 deaths and 143,000 serious injuries could be prevented each year.
Deaths and injuries resulting from the non-use of seat belts are estimated to cost society $26 billion annually for medical care, lost productivity, and other injury-related costs.
States with primary enforcement laws have seat belt usage rates that are 10 to 15 percent higher than states with lesser enforcement standards. Indeed, primary enforcement not only boosts the use of seat belts by adults, but studies confirm that children are much more likely to be properly protected in safety seats or booster seats if the adults in the vehicle use their seat belts as well.