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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.”

Comments

bobberboy 6 years, 3 months ago

Why do we have seat belts and airbags both ?

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Windlass 6 years, 3 months ago

Besides, the LDP, Bert Nash, and DCCCA are all married, literally, to each other. What the cop gets to do on the street often results in business for the other two. Guess what the catch is, though? You don't even have to be doing anything illegal or wrong.

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Windlass 6 years, 3 months ago

I reckon they just need to justify their harrassment of innocent people.

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moo 6 years, 3 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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justfornow 6 years, 3 months ago

What gives you or the Government the right to make me wear a seat belt? As stupid as it may be not to wear one. Get the -uck out of my life. If you agree with this you are cattle.

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 3 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?

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GretchenJP 6 years, 3 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?

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myhrmayd1 6 years, 3 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.

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DirtyLinen 6 years, 3 months ago

truthhurts (Anonymous) says:

"Using that logic the gov't should try to ensure that minors are protected from everything every time they set foot outside the door. ... 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."

We're not talking about being "protected from everything every time they step out the door," we're talking about trying to protect them from horrible deaths and maimings that are preventable. Your objection seems to be just that the government shouldn't pass any kind of safety law. Do you think minors should be allowed to have firearms? Handle industrial grade fireworks or even explosives? Of course not. We have all kinds of laws that are designed to protect people from themselves. And children, who don't often make good decisions as you pointed out yourself, need more protection than adults. Is this government "control?" No more so than putting an age limit on drinking, smoking, or the handling of guns and explosives.

So I ask again, are you against laws against those behaviors for teenagers? If not, what is the basis of your objection to this one?

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black_butterfly 6 years, 3 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!!!

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BigPrune 6 years, 3 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.

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New2theplanet 6 years, 3 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?

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more_cowbell 6 years, 3 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

40somethings.

....

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.

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TJ_in_Lawrence 6 years, 3 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.

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gogoplata 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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matahari 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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truthhurts 6 years, 3 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.

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DirtyLinen 6 years, 3 months ago

truthhurts (Anonymous) says:

"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."

I agree. And there's a law that says teens should be wearing their seatbelts, which should be enforced just as any other law. YOU are the one who changed the discussion to one of teenage behaviors which should be regulated by their parents rather than having laws to control/restrict/limit/modify/whatever those behaviors. In essence you said the police should not enforce the law because the parents should be teaching their kids what to do. I meerly took that "argument" a step further to point out that we already have a multitude if laws saying what teens can/can't/must do, whether or not their parents choose think that behavior is important.

Tell me something, "truth"hurts: All of the people who have posted to this board saying they think the government has no right to tell them to wear a seatbelt - you think they are going to make sure their kids wear one?

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purplesage 6 years, 3 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.

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del888 6 years, 3 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.

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truthhurts 6 years, 3 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

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solsken66 6 years, 3 months ago

Cell phone talking while driving should also be banned.

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solsken66 6 years, 3 months ago

How will the parent that gave the ok to their child not wearing a seatbelt feel when an officer comes to their door to inform them of the death of their child?

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solsken66 6 years, 3 months ago

Seatbelts should be worn by everybody, not just teenagers. Yes, seatbelts do save lives. There have been a number young people who went to an early death due to not wearing seatbelts where I grew up in Kansas. One boy was thrown from his car and pinned under the front tire. Another adult was thrown from his pickup and killed. Then there were three other young people killed in seperate auto accidents. This is a high percentage for a rural county with a small population. This was just the deaths in my small community of 300+.

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Kathy Gragg 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm just saying the info is available through the safety commish, I just handed out a few ice scrapers recently, because I still have a few in the trunk of my car & if anyone wants some "buckle up" key rings I have those too.

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truthhurts 6 years, 3 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.

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DirtyLinen 6 years, 3 months ago

truthhurts (Anonymous) says:

"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."

Good idea. Let's do away with the drinking age, too. After all, it should be up to the parents to control their kids' behavior, not the state, right?

Hey, what the heck - let's let kids buy cigarettes (if their parents can't convince them not to.) And forget about truancy, if the parents haven't instilled a desire for education in their kids, well scr__ 'em. Oh, and as for underage sexual behavior...

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truthhurts 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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Kathy Gragg 6 years, 3 months ago

Kids do need to learn seat belt safety, so hell yes they should enforce the law every chance they get. My guess is they are too busy dealing with other things to really do this though. DCCCA offers alot of information free of charge about seat belt safety.

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justfornow 6 years, 3 months ago

I guess were just like cattle....aren't we.

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truthhurts 6 years, 3 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.

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sunflower_sue 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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Liberty 6 years, 3 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.

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compmd 6 years, 3 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.

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DirtyLinen 6 years, 3 months ago

"I am always leery when there is yet another law designed to save us from our own stupidity."

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

Etc., etc.

Right. I think we should leave it up to natural selection (if that's allowed in Kansas), and let the stupid children die.

What on earth are people arguing for - the right to have their chest crushed by a steering wheel or dashboard and their face ripped off by the broken glass of the windshield? Let's hope they're removed from the gene pool themselves before they can pass on their defense of personal freedom to another generation of victims.

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gl0ck0wnr 6 years, 3 months ago

No, although they should obviously use them.

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prospector 6 years, 3 months ago

Buckle up for safety!

I had a JoCo sheriff tell me, "I don't need a reason , I pull over whomever I want. There are 275 different moving infractions. Everybody is breaking one of them."

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jonas 6 years, 3 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.

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Gabe Hoffman 6 years, 3 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.

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Kyle Neuer 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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conservativepunker 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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truthhurts 6 years, 3 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?

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freeordie 6 years, 3 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.

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Aileen Dingus 6 years, 3 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.

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blackwalnut 6 years, 3 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.

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sdinges 6 years, 3 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.

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overplayedhistory 6 years, 3 months ago

I worked for a farmer for ten years who was an avid hunter. One day when quail were not in season, we saw a one take off and run into the rows. He turned to me and said "smart bird, the dumb ones that fly away are no longer around because I shoot em". I am always leery when there is yet another law designed to save us from our own stupidity.

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Finding_Uranus 6 years, 3 months ago

Taking away personal choice? Profiling? Interesting.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 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?

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imastinker 6 years, 3 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.

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Paul R Getto 6 years, 3 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 need...it's called inattentive driving.

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macon47 6 years, 3 months ago

the cops shouldnt be able to pull anyone over.

what if the poor guy has dope in the car? , he could be arrested or worse, the cops could take his dope away

bummer,dude.

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gvermooten 6 years, 3 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.

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labmonkey 6 years, 3 months ago

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

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Bladerunner 6 years, 3 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.

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topflight 6 years, 3 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.

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sgtwolverine 6 years, 3 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.

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gccs14r 6 years, 3 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.

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