Law of the Month

Drivers are responsible for all 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.  (Wis.Stat.347.48(4)(am))

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.  Last year in Fond du Lac County 10 people that died as a result of a traffic crash were not wearing their seatbelt.

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.   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 Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies continue to crack down on unbelted drivers and passengers.

“here were more than 100,000 convictions in Wisconsin for failure to fasten safety belts last year. Among all traffic violations statewide, safety belt convictions were second only to speeding convictions.  “Click It or Ticket” is more than just a slogan, when officers see an unbelted motorist, they will stop the vehicle and issue a citation.


Be Safe and Buckle Up,

Sheriff Mick Fink