Nearly eighty percent of Wisconsin motorists are buckling up now, according to the latest survey numbers from the Wisconsin State Patrol. That sounds great, but compare it with Michigan’s 98 percent safety belt use rate. Any chance Michigan is fudging those numbers? “We’ve been wondering the same thing,” says Dennis Hughes with the Bureau of Transportation Safety. “But I’ll take their word for it. There are several states that are reporting in the high nineties, it’s not just Michigan.”
Iowa is at 93 percent, Illinois is at 91 percent, and Minnesota is at 90 percent. All of those neighboring states have fines that are higher than Wisconsin’s, which is just ten dollars per violation. “There are really just a handful of states at the ten dollar level,” says Hughes. “Many states are still at the $25 range, but a great many states are higher than that, plus they do the additional ad ons and court costs that accompany virtually every traffic offense.” Still, seat belt use has been the law in Wisconsin since 1987, and Hughes says it’s no secret seat belts save lives and reduce injuries.