The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA), on behalf of its member hospitals, health systems, physician organizations, and allied healthcare providers, appreciates this opportunity to testify in support of HB1304, “An Act Establishing a Primary Seat Belt Law.”
Studies have indicated that safety belts are the single most effective safety device in preventing serious injury and death in motor vehicle crashes. When used properly, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-severe injury by 50 percent. And the introduction of “primary” safety belt laws has been shown to increase safety belt use up to 24 percent in the year following implementation.
The ultimate goal of this proposal is to enforce the use of seatbelts in motor vehicles, with non-compliance subject to an increased $50 fine. Additionally, HB1304 makes the violation a primary offense, for which police officers can stop drivers. However, surcharges for motor vehicle insurance due to such violations are prohibited and police must refrain from searching or inspecting a vehicle due to a violation of this provision.
MHA supports primary enforcement and enhanced fines for non-compliance because it will improve the health of Massachusetts residents and prevent serious injuries. And the prevention of such injuries will also result in savings related to healthcare costs, property damage, and workers compensation. Because of the clear beneficial effect that enhanced seatbelt fines and primary enforcement will have on the health and welfare of the citizens of the commonwealth, MHA respectfully requests that the committee issue HB1304 a favorable report.
Thank you for the opportunity to offer comments on this most important matter. If you have any questions or concerns or require further information, please contact Michael Sroczynski, MHA’s Vice-President of Government Advocacy at (781) 262-6055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.