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Ask Dr. Delay: Seat-belt legislation would toughen Florida's law

Several readers have written in to ask about the proposed seat belt bill being debated in Tallahassee.

"If we already have a 'click it or ticket' law, why the heck do we need another one?" one exasperated reader wrote.

Here's the deal: Florida law requires that you buckle up, but the catch is, you can only be ticketed for that if you're stopped for some other infraction.

The exception is for those under 17. Let the kids romp around and you can be pulled over.

So, for example, if a law enforcement officer sees a carload of kids burning rubber out of a high school parking lot and they are bouncing around and climbing from the back seat to the front seat and doing all those various idiot things some teenagers do in cars, it's pretty obvious that they're not restrained and they can be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing seat belts.

Other than that, law enforcement officers have to see someone speeding or running a stop sign or some other violation, and then add the seat belt ticket on top. It's called a secondary offense.

The proposed House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 344 would make the failure to buckle up a primary offense. In other words, you can be pulled over if it appears you or your passengers are not properly restrained.

People who support the bill say it will save lives. Critics say the stricter regulation would constitute an encroachment on personal freedom and insist that you can't legislate common sense. But it seems to me that not a whole lot of time passes between reports of horrific car accidents in which unbelted passengers — usually young people — are ejected to their deaths. I would rather have my personal rights encroached upon than read one more story about teenagers being thrown from cars, their bodies broken against trees.

The other motivator for the House and Senate to adopt the enhanced seat belt law is that Florida stands to be awarded $37 million in federal transportation safety dollars in exchange for doing so.

• • •

Work on 113th Street/Ridge Road at 102nd Avenue in Seminole is humming along, but until it's finished it's probably a good idea to avoid the area and take Park Boulevard to travel east/west and Seminole Boulevard to travel north/south. The resurfacing project is part of the long-term plan to widen 102nd Avenue and will take about two weeks to complete, weather permitting.

A bit north of 102nd Avenue, work on improvements to Walsingham Road between Seminole Boulevard and 119th Street is on hold for a few months because an eagle's nest was discovered in the area. Work at Old Ridge Road has halted until the eagles leave the nest, officials from Pinellas County Public Works say.

• • •

Repair work on a sewer line is the reason a section of Gulf Lane on Madeira Beach has been closed. Pinellas County Utilities partially reopened the roadway for weekend traffic but will close it again Monday morning to finish the repair, which should be completed by March 10.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Check out Dr. Delay's Bay News 9 blog at to read more about commuting issues.

Ask Dr. Delay: Seat-belt legislation would toughen Florida's law 03/07/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 7, 2009 3:31am]
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