Last Saturday night, a 12-year-old girl was ejected from a vehicle with no seat belts in a San Diego car accident. At around 9:30 p.m., 45-year-old Rudy Alfred Fritz lost control of his 1956 Volkswagen Beetle on Highway 76 and veered into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with another vehicle. Rudy and his daughter, Kelley Fritz, were both thrown from the car; she died at the scene of the accident, and he was hospitalized for his injuries. The driver and the passenger of the other vehicle, a Buick Regal, were also taken to a nearby hospital. Rudy has been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, possibly prescription, and gross vehicular manslaughter.
Over fifty years old, Fritz’s Beetle was not originally equipped with seatbelts, nor was he ever legally obligated to install them: the law does not require vehicles manufactured prior to the legislation of safety-restraint laws to have seat belts, explains a California injury lawyer.
The first law requiring the use of seat belts was passed in 1985 in New York.
Seat Belt Laws Fall Into Two Categories:
Primary: Law enforcement officials may stop a vehicle and issue a citation when either the driver or a passenger is not wearing a seat belt.
Secondary: Law enforcement officials may stop a vehicle and issue a citation only after the driver has been sited for another violation.
At present, 31 states, including California, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have primary seat belt laws, and 18 states have secondary laws. Compliance with seat belt laws has been higher in states with primary laws than in those with secondary laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) has been tracking the correlation between seat belt use and vehicle occupant fatalities since 1994 and has recorded an inverse relationship between the two: as seat belt use has increased, vehicle occupant fatalities have decreased.
Everyone at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis, and Leslie would like to offer their condolences to the family of Kelley Fritz, the 12-year-old girl who died in the San Diego car accident last Saturday. An online directory to grief support groups and resources located throughout the country can be found by clicking here.
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