Group Commends S.C. ASSE for Role Played in Passing New Seat Belt Law

A South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) official recently commended the South Carolina Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) for its ongoing efforts to help secure passage of the new primary seat belt law.

In the June 28 letter to ASSE S.C. Chapter President Wilma Magyar, S.C. DOT Director of Safety Terecia Wilson said, “For over 20 years the safety community in South Carolina has been encouraging members of the General Assembly to pass a primary safety belt law. Your group’s concentrated efforts this year were instrumental in securing passage.

“Please commend your members on their outstanding legislative effort,” Wilson continued. “They literally put their caring and their commitment to safety into action. It is because of efforts such as this that lives will be saved on South Carolina’s roads.”

The new S.C. primary seat belt law, which will take effect six months from June 9, imposes a $25 fine for those who don’t wear their seat belt. S.C. now joins 22 other states and the District of Columbia that have standard or primary enforcement of their seat belt laws.

Last year in S.C. more than 600 people involved in car crashes who were not wearing their seat belts died. DOT statistics reportedly show seat belt use would have saved 40 percent of those fatalities. S.C. has one of the nation’s lowest seat-belt usage rates — 67 percent. At the same time, the state has one of the highest death rates; about 75 percent of the people who die in accidents are not buckled up.

“We believe this new law will help save lives and reduce injuries,” Magyar said. “This is especially important to ASSE since transportation accidents continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths nationally.”

So far in 2005, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety, 445 people have died on state roads, 23 more than last year at this time. Of those deaths, 347 were in vehicles and had access to seat belts, but 75 percent reportedly weren’t buckled up.