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Do you think police should be able to pull over teenagers for not wearing their seat belts?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on December 29, 2007

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Photo of Caroline Bauer

“I don’t think that’s necessary. It would just cause a lot of stress for teenagers and distract the police from more important pursuits.”

Photo of Alan Martinez

“Yeah. You do a lot of stupid things when you’re young, and it’s nice to kind of have someone watching over you.”

Photo of Kim Kickhaefer

“Actually, if it means saving a life, I don’t have a problem with it.”

Photo of Zach Clancy

“No. We all have the same license, and we should all have the same laws to abide by.”


gccs14r 10 years, 6 months ago

Not wearing a seatbelt should be a primary violation regardless of age. There are enough other violations that the cops ignore that I don't think seatbelt scofflaws have anything to worry about, though.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 6 months ago

I saw the unsecured objects in my car after a hard collision, and I know that I walked away. Yes, I think the police should be able to pull them over for failure to wear seat belts.

topflight 10 years, 6 months ago

Hey Caroline, have you ever been to the scene of an accident and seen what happens to a body when a car rolls over it? I have. Seatbelts can save lives. Unfortunately teen drivers are not the best drivers and like to take unnecessary risks. This will hopefully prevent some serious injury or death. You make me laugh when you said it will stress them. HAHA. I am pretty sure they will be more worried about their 10 page term paper they have due the next day, not their seatbelt.

Bladerunner 10 years, 6 months ago

My child started driving a few months ago. I hope she does get stopped if she is foolish enough to forget to put on her seatbelt.

New2theplanet 10 years, 5 months ago

Unbelievable. I work at a high school and one of my jobs is to monitor kiddos as they leave the school premises. One day I counted 17 out of 25 of these kiddos speeding out of the parking lot without the benefit of a seatbelt. It is not the school's responsibility to buckle these precious children as they leave, nor is a police officer around to cite speeding students and the job of citing students for their lack of seat belts. Hummm. So who is going to make the kids wear the things? Can the police really handle seat belt laws AND all of their other jobs?

labmonkey 10 years, 6 months ago

Only if they can be pulled over for using cell phones while the vehicle is in operation.

gvermooten 10 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely! EVERYBODY should be required to use seat belts and subject to ticketing if they don't. If nothing else, others shouldn't have to clean up the greater mess if they're involved in an accident without using them.

Paul R Getto 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree; seat belts are a requirement for all. Police should stop people babbling on phones as well and have all the authority they's called inattentive driving.

imastinker 10 years, 6 months ago

I bucke up and have been to enough accident scenes that I know exactly what happens if you don't, but I do not think that the government should be requiring us to do it. Driving without a seat belt is a personal choice, and it's one that hurts nobody else (other than family and friends).

THis is very different that cell phone driing and drunk diving in that those can cause accidents withothers, and cause damage. Not being belted in probably hasn't caused many accidents.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 6 months ago

Made_in_China (Anonymous) says: I agree; seat belts are a requirement for all. Police should stop people babbling on phones as well and have all the authority they need:it's called inattentive driving.

Ditto to made in China....

Enforcement on both counts will likely require a complaint to be called in?

Several countries do not allow cell phone driving.

On seat belts are teenagers exempt from the law? If not why the question?

sdinges 10 years, 5 months ago

This question was prompted because the law is changing so that teenagers between 14-17 are required to wear seat belts, regardless of their position in the car (if I recall, the current situation is that people over the age of 14 are not required to wear the in the back seat).

When I was young and seat belt laws changed, seat belt checkpoints were commonplace to ensure that people were adjusting correctly to the law.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. There is no reason that the police shouldn't enforce this law. Since the group that the law has changed for is 14-17 year olds, they (and families with children in the back seat) are the ones who should be targeted for checks.

gogoplata 10 years, 5 months ago

Hell no. They shouldn't be able to pull over anyone for not wearing a seatbelt.

blackwalnut 10 years, 5 months ago

Yes, and even more important, police should pull over any person who has an unrestrained toddler or child in the car.

I can't count the number of times I've seen toddlers sitting on a driver's lap, or standing up in a seat unrestrained.

This is child abuse, pure and simple.

Aileen Dingus 10 years, 5 months ago

In a former lifetime, I lived in a state where you could get a ticket for not being buckled, but it wasn't a primary- you had to be pulled over for something ELSE, then if the officer saw you weren't wearing a belt you got knocked for that too.

I think that's a good way to go about it, even though I'd rather see teens be buckled all the time, I agree that having officers spend their days stopping every car with a possible teen driver not buckled is possibly a misuse of their time.

freeordie 10 years, 5 months ago

Well, I think the police should be able to do whatever they want of course. Wait, they already do that. Mmmmm, parental laws taste good like a jack boot should.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 5 months ago

Laws are necessary to protect people from force and fraud. Failure to wear a seatbelt harms only the driver/passenger.

Isn't it healthy to teach teenagers to make their own decisions - especially basic ones like this?

conservativepunker 10 years, 5 months ago

Yes. The belt can save lives--even for those that think they are indestructible.

Kyle Neuer 10 years, 5 months ago

The State shouldn't be involved in this, at all.

Gabe Hoffman 10 years, 5 months ago

Just another way for police to pull someone over beacuse they are suspicious. How is an officer to know if exactly how old someone is until they are pulled over. And say they are 18, does stop him from asking to search the vehicle. No. I've been subject to Lawrence police's, "Oh, well I pulled you over for this, I'm not going to site you, but do you mind if I search the vehicle."

Say no, you look guilty. Say yes, they have all the power.

Finding hit it on the head. Are they going to enforce it, yes, only when they occupants look young enough, and they've caught the officers attention and not for seatbelt violations.

It's another profiling tool which we can now put next to the law about your car stereo being heard from more then 50 feet.

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

Glad I don't live in Leawood anymore. The cops there would already tail kids for miles trying to find something to pull them over for already. I would never have had a moments peace on the road.

I dislike paternal/maternal laws on principle. I think the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt are known and easily taught to children. (I remember we had a police officer come to our middle school with a simulated roll over mechanism, a car on a track. What happened to the dummy was quite. . . profound) Taking away personal choices under the tagline "It's Saves Lives!!(tm)" can lead anywhere you want it to go, and is easy to abuse.

compmd 10 years, 5 months ago

The easiest way to justify this law is the cost involved to the public when they have to clean someone up who has been smeared across a street in an accident. Wear a seatbelt, save the public time and money. This has been the case in Illinois for years, for everyone. Illinois has some of the strictest regulation of teen driving, and it is getting tougher. 16 year old Kansans don't have a clue how much tougher it could be...wear the seat belt.

Liberty 10 years, 5 months ago

"radiohawk (Anonymous) says:

The State shouldn't be involved in this, at all."

I agree with radiohawk. This is a bad law pushed by insurance companies. I side with the 4th Amendment.
Not in fear of a law enforcement officer, using a seatbelt law for a fishing expedition to find something wrong to write a ticket for.

It is your personal responsiblity, not the government, that is responsible to ensure your basic safety. If it was law enforcement's responsibility for your safety, you could sue them when they fail to protect you. Many people seem to have this misconception that the government is going to keep you safe and is responsible for your safety. The truth is that you are personally responsible for your own safety, not a police officer or the government.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 5 months ago

What snap said! Then, if it's my kid, I also get the option of beating their @$$ when they get home! :)

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 5 months ago

DirtyLinen - you miss the point. Nobody is arguing that people shouldn't wear seatbelts. Obviously they should if they value their life. The point is this law will not do anything to increase safety. The cops do not have time (or at least shouldn't) to spend on enforcement, and if you know anything about teenagers following rules is not their strength. My other concern is that we are (once again) legislating behavior that is best left between parents and their children.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 5 months ago

Information that can be offered free of charge by their.....parents.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 5 months ago

Wow - that was a leap. The discussion is concerning a law that requires drivers/passengers to wear a seatbelt. A law restricting the purchase of alcohol or cigarettes is enforceable as minors have to purchase the materials. This law simply is not enforceable - it's smoke/mirrors. The Legislature and people feel better because they're "getting tough" or whatever, but it has no impact. Based on your position it would make more sense for you to advocate the restriction of driving until the age of 18.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 5 months ago

No offense intended Kathy. You're helping out with your own dime/time. That's how things should work - go for it. Patrick

del888 10 years, 5 months ago

Just a note: Many semi-tractors have a bright neon orange or green seat belt strap. This is so the highway patrol can easily see if the driver has the seat belt on - even when they are driving down the road. Truck drivers get stopped all the time for not wearing the seat belt - so it CAN be enforced.

purplesage 10 years, 5 months ago

prospector's JoCo deputy experience is why I say "NO" to this one. I wear a seat belt, and I think everyone should. It will end up being a new tool in the harassment tool box though and we don't need any more of that. And then, of course, we will have police chases when some scared kid panics - careening through neighborhoods, hitting other cars, pedestrians, and trees and such. Naturally, the officer wouldn't be at fault. Shucks, maybe they should just taze 'em and fasten the belt for them.

Terry Jacobsen 10 years, 5 months ago

I've told me kids repeatedly that if I catch them not wearing a seatbelt, the car keys are gone. Not just for a week, but until I decide that they can have them back. That doesn't mean they are going to do it, but I've laid out the consequences for failing to obey. I want the police to also help watch out for my kids when I can't. So yes, if they see someone driving and they aren't wearing a seatbelt, then stop them and make them accountable.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 5 months ago

I have no idea (and I don't speak for those people anyway), but that's irrelevant to discussion of this law. Using that logic the gov't should try to ensure that minors are protected from everything every time they set foot outside the door.

You really want every law on the books enforced? We have all seen some of the goofy statutes that are still on the books.

The bottom line is this - are we willing to hand over another decision to the gov't (again - a law that is protecting people from themselves not others)? If you are comfortable with that ok. Just understand that it is a form of control even if it is well intended.

matahari 10 years, 5 months ago

the cost of cleaning it up? how long does it take to powerspray an area of asphalt?

more_cowbell 10 years, 5 months ago

Click it or ticket. If you get in a car, fasten the seat belt, or accept that you may be pulled over by the police... regardless of your age.

Of course, the police aren't likely to pull you over just for the seat belt, are they? Usually it's for another reason: because the registration isn't current, driving with lights off or out during night-time, or weaving across lanes (intentionally or not); and the "not wearing seat belt" violation is added to the other violation(s).

So hey, teenagers... and adults who should know better... keep your license and registration current, and know when you've had too much to drink. Turn your lights on when it's dark, or replace them when they break. Reduce your chances of getting pulled over in the first place. Despite what some (most?) teenagers (and adults) think, driving is a privilege, not a right. The privilege can be withdrawn when someone abuses it and is caught in the process of doing so.

Having said all that, the insurance people (actuaries?) have done the math, and statistically the age group most likely to not be driving in a rational, safe manner are... drumroll



just kidding! It's teenagers--16-24. For some mysterious reason, insurance rates go down starting at age 25, and one can rent a car without parental assistance, etc.

Teenagers aren't deserving of being singled out for special treatment where the seatbelt law is concerned... that's the job of the parent (at least until age 18). Though again, the police should be able to pull over anyone for not wearing a seatbelt. The chances of that being the only moving violation involved, though, would be pretty slim.

Those of you who don't like the government forcing you to wear a seatbelt, go ahead and make sure that otherwise you're driving legally, and leave it off. (Of course, you realize that the same applies to speeding, but you're much less likely to get away with that). This issue is similar to wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle... if someone accepts a higher risk of dying, it's up to them. Just make sure you've accepted personal responsibility for the consequences of not wearing it if you are involved in an accident; whether you're a driver or passenger, it's your choice (though the driver has the added power of denying the passenger a ride for refusing to wear a seat belt).

Parents should set good examples and always wear seat belts, and of course explain to their teenagers that they should do the same once they drive. After that, it's up to the kids to do so, but unless they're paying for the car, the insurance, the gas, and the ticket, the parents do have the right to take the car away if the kids get ticketed.

BigPrune 10 years, 5 months ago

The police should tailgate every teenager they see driving and pull them over for any minor infraction. That way, the teenagers will be paranoid about driving, making sure they drive properly at all times throughout their adult lives, and they'll live in fear of committing a crime no matter how minor.

black_butterfly 10 years, 5 months ago

I am on the fence about this one. If they pass the law then these bored cops in Lawrence will use it as a way to pull over teens when they don't have anything better to do. Then again if you asked any parent who has lost a child in a car accident where a seat belt could have saved them, I am sure they will agree 100% with this law. I do however think that if teens can be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt then anyone should be pulled over for it. Some people look like teens and are well over 21. How will the police decide who is a teen just by watching them pass by? I am just not sure about this one. Prune, LOL, no I don't think we should purposely make teens paranoid and nervous about driving. That's one reason why they have a lot of accidents, along with drinking, reckless driving and CELL PHONES!!!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 5 months ago

gogoplata Since you obviously don't wear your seat belt, I assume you have enough live insurance and disability insurance to take care of yourself if you are in an accident, so you won't be a burden to society. Does the seat belt muss your hair or wrinkle your clothes?

myhrmayd1 10 years, 5 months ago

Wow...lots of opinions about something as simple as putting on a seatbelt.

Who the heck cares???

Wear your seatbelt (which is a sensible thing to do) and there will be no drama. Amazing how one little click could put all of this away.

GretchenJP 10 years, 5 months ago

topflight (Anonymous) says:

"Hey Caroline, have you ever been to the scene of an accident and seen what happens to a body when a car rolls over it? I have. Seatbelts can save lives. Unfortunately teen drivers are not the best drivers and like to take unnecessary risks. This will hopefully prevent some serious injury or death. You make me laugh when you said it will stress them. HAHA. I am pretty sure they will be more worried about their 10 page term paper they have due the next day, not their seatbelt."

I agree with topflight. What would be more stressful, Caroline, being pulled over by a cop for not wearing your seatbelt or being scraped up by a cop on the freeway for not wearing one?

moo 10 years, 5 months ago

The age range of this law makes no sense. 14-17? A car with a thirteen year old, unbuckled passenger can't be pulled over, but one with a fourteen year old passenger can? A person with unbuckled little kids is ok as long as they don't speed or run a stoplight? Personally I worry about the implications of being over to pull over anyone for being unbuckled. I think that gives cops a huge ability to profile who they are pulling over. However, if you're going to implement this law, do it for everyone! Sure teenagers are more reckless drivers, but I've seen plenty of adults who are pretty close. Not to mention the difficulty of judging from another moving vehicle whether an unbuckled passenger or driver is 13 or 14, 17 or 18. Can they still ticket an 18 year old if the cop thought they were 17 and pulled them over? It's just too problematic.

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