Mandatory Safety Belt Usage Law
During the early 1980s, a movement arose in Ohio to make seatbelt usage mandatory in the state. To pressure the Ohio General Assembly to enact such a measure, a coalition of several organizations, known as the Ohio Safety Belt Coalition, formed. Due to pressure from the coalition, the Ohio legislature approved the Mandatory Safety Belt Usage Law, which went into effect on May 4, 1986. This legislation required motorists, with the exception of motorcyclists, and their passengers to use safety belts while traveling in a vehicle.
For the first sixty days that the Mandatory Safety Belt Usage Law was in effect, police officers could only provide warnings to drivers and their passengers. As of July 4, 1986, law enforcement officials could cite drivers and their passengers for failing to utilize seatbelts. Between July 4, and December 31, 1986, for example, the Ohio Highway Patrol cited more than forty-three thousand people for failing to utilize safety belts and issued an additional sixty thousand warnings. Law enforcement officials could only cite drivers who were stopped for some other motor vehicle infraction.
Critics of the Mandatory Safety Belt Usage Law claim that it infringes on a person’s constitutional liberties, while supporters argue that safety belt usage saves the lives of people involved in automobile accidents.