Seat Belt Safety in Wisconsin
It may be common knowledge, but it bears repeating – wearing your seat belt consistently (and correctly) is the most effective way to prevent serious injury in an automobile accident. But even though wearing a seat belt at all times is the law, the state of Wisconsin is below the national average when it comes to seat belt use.
In 2013, seat belt use across the state was at 83%, an all-time high – but that’s still below the national average of 86%. Additionally, teen seat belt use is lower than all other groups as well, leading to an increased risk of injury or death in youngsters behind the wheel.
The moral of the story: everybody should wear a seat belt whenever they’re in an automobile.
Seat Belt Laws in Wisconsin
Everyone 4 years and older is required to wear a seat belt in an automobile in the state of Wisconsin. This law applies to residents and non-residents – basically, if you’re driving in Wisconsin, seat belt use is the law. All registered automobiles are required to have seat belts in the state as well.
Effective 2009, required seat belt use is now a primary enforcement law. That means that any law enforcement officer can pull you over if it looks like you’re driving without a seat belt, and issue you a ticket and a fine. Fortunately, these violations don’t net you any points against your driver record – but multiple offenses may reflect poorly on your record and in your insurance coverage.
What About Children?
For children under 4 years, an appropriate child safety seat is required to secure them in an automobile. The progression follows as such:
- Car seat until: 4 years and 40 lbs.
- Booster seat until: 8 years, more than 80lbs, or taller than 4’9”
More information on child safety seats can be found at the Wisconsin DOT.
The tickets and fines associated with breaking child safety laws are much steeper than seat belt violations. If the children involved are less than 4 years old, the total penalty is $175.30, and if they are 4-8, the penalty is $150.10, with that number increasing after multiple offenses.
While these fines and violations for seat belt use may seem steep, they’re firmly in place to deter motorists from driving without a seat belt. If you don’t want to pay for your mistakes and your potential lives, it’s simple: wear a seat belt, and you’ll be just fine.