Nashville, TN – Commissioner Bill Gibbons of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOS&HS), Colonel Tracy Trott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer and Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) Director Kendell Poole announced the increase in seat belt fines as an effective additional tool to curb traffic fatalities in the state.
The State Legislature approved a bill during the 2015 session. As of January 1st, 2016 the fine for seat belt violations will more than double. The fine for a first offense seat belt violation will be raised to $25.00 and the second and subsequent offense will be $50.00.“So far this year, state troopers have issued over 107,000 seat belt citations,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “That is a 255 percent increase over the same time period in 2010. We will continue to make this a priority, but we hope the day will come when it is difficult for a state trooper to find a motorist not wearing a seat belt. We hope the tougher fines will encourage motorists to obey the law.”
Along with announcing the seatbelt fine increase, The TDOS&HS today announced a reminder that THP will be out in force during the holiday period to ensure travelers reach their destination safely. State troopers will focus their attention on traffic violations that place motorists in jeopardy, such as distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving and lack of seat belt usage.
The holiday enforcement period will begin at 12:01am on December 24th and conclude at midnight on December 27th.
The holiday season is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving. The THP will utilize several enforcement tools, including saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks, and driver license and sobriety checkpoints to help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes over the holiday season.
“We care about you and your safety,” Colonel Tracy Trott said. “What we are hoping to accomplish with the fine increase is a heightened sense of awareness among our motorists. The best safety tool that a driver or passenger has while riding in a vehicle is to wear his or injured or killed in a car crash. Wearing a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. One life lost due to not wearing a seat belt is one life to many.”
- Designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two of the several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Important tips include:
- Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;
- If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;
- Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by dialing *THP;
- Wear your seat belt or use protective gear on your motorcycle as your best defense against an impaired driver; and
- Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take the person’s keys and help him or her make other arrangements.
“We are very thankful for the friendships and partnerships that TDOT has with the Department of Safety and our state troopers,” Commissioner John Schroer said. “We understand that it takes all hands on deck to ensure a safer Tennessee, and the seat belt fine increase will help state troopers and local law enforcement in their efforts”.
During the 2014 Christmas holiday, seven people were killed on Tennessee roadways in seven fatal crashes. Alcohol was involved in 71.4 percent of those crashes, and three of the six vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. There was also one pedestrian killed during the 96-hour holiday period.
Statistics for the 2014 Christmas period are attached. Statewide sobriety and driver license checkpoints for the upcoming holiday also accompany this release. Statewide sobriety and driver license checkpoints for the upcoming holiday are also available to be viewed visiting our website (www.TN.Gov/safety. Please drive safely and “Buckle up Tennessee.”
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to serve, secure, and protect the people of Tennessee.