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Should Mississippi require seat belts for everyone?

Seat belts are the most effective car accident safety device, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, those who wear seat belts reduce their risk of suffering injuries in a car accident by 50 percent. And, seat belts do save lives; NHTSA reports that more than 75,000 lives were saved as the result of seat belts from 2004 to 2008.

Although seat belt use is currently higher than ever, there are many people here in Corinth who do not wear seat belts. And Mississippi law does not require back seat passengers over the age of 6 to wear seat belts. One father is pressing state lawmakers to change that.

The man's two teenage children were killed in a car accident in 2006. Neither of the teens was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The man's daughter, 17, was driving with her brother, 15, in the passenger seat when they were involved in an accident. They were each ejected from the vehicle.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the father has been studying seat belt legislation and talking to lawmakers. As a result, Mississippi Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, Gulport, plans to introduce a bill that would require all backseat passengers to wear seat belts; front seat passengers are already required to buckle up. Under Williams-Barnes' proposal, those who break the seat belt requirement would be fined.

The future of that legislation remains to be seen. 

In many cases, seat belts can prevent people from suffering severe injuries or even death in an auto accident. Car accidents can happen in an instant and they can change lives forever. Mississippi residents need to make smart, responsible decisions in order to protect themselves and others on the roads.

Source: KLTV 7, "South MS man pushes to change seatbelt law," Danielle Thomas, Dec. 28, 2013

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