Indiana’s Seatbelt Loophole law

I’ve commented on the current seatbelt law on both Doug Masson’s Blog, and on Taking Down Words, but since I keep doing that, I should probably talk about here on my own site, too. Both of those sites have been in favor of closing Indiana’s truck seat belt law, and both of them have been pretty dismissive (and somewhat contemptuous) of the fact that there’s an exception in the first place.

There is actually logic behind Indiana’s truck exception in the seatbelt law. The reason trucks are excluded is because people who use them for certain types of jobs (on both the farms and in construction projects in town) need to get in and out of the truck often while driving very short distances between stops. Buckling and undoing the seat belt every thirty seconds or so to hop out is really impractical for these types of jobs. Generally, they’re not going fast enough to get in an accident or even get hurt in the event of one. Perhaps there should be a way to exclude trucks that are actual in work mode from being required to use the seatbelt, rather than all trucks.

I’d also say that you need to provide some compelling statistics about the number of trucks on the road that have been in accidents without seatbelts and the amount your insurance has gone up because of them before someone should be making the case for changing the law.

Both Masson and Taking Down Words tried to cite “public emergency expenses” as a reason in favor of the law. But in the event of an accident, you’re paying the same amount for the police to come and rescue someone whether they wear their seatbelt or not, so that’s not a factor you can cite.

Full Disclosure: I come down reluctantly in favor of seat belt laws. I know that wearing one is safer and lowers the risk of injury. However, since my heart surgery, the seat belt drives me absolutely stark raving mad every time I drive because it hurts. So there are times I don’t wear it, and I get away with it because I drive a pick-up. I kinda like taking advantage of the exception. But at least I know the reason why the exception exists, although no one else seems to.

2012 Update: the seat belt law was amended to remove the pick-up truck loophole, but still allows exceptions for farm vehicles and mail carriers.

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33 comments on “Indiana’s Seatbelt Loophole law
  1. brian says:

    Why should government mandate competent adults wear a seat belt? I think it should be up to each individual. If one does not want to wear a seatbelt, then he can pay the consequences should he be in an accident. It has been well publicized about the prevention of injuries if one wears a seat belt, now let the individual decide and accept responsibility for his own actions.
    It is time for the government to get out of our personal lives and let man do as we choose on topics like this. We are each accountable for our own actions.

  2. I’m with you, Brian. They keep raising the objection that non-belt wearers “make insurance rates go up” which is silly. Then you problem is with your insurance company, not the law. Let the insurance companies provide an opt-out for people who don’t want to wear them, then.

  3. bryon night says:

    Its not about responsible adults or teen drivers or insurance rates, its about police departments making money and the politicians that have invested into the
    driving schools that rake in even more money — talk about a retirement program.

  4. david says:

    Brian, I agree with your statement that it is each individuals responsiblity on whether or not to wear a seat belt. It really should be a no-brainer and EVERYBODY should wear a seat belt. One very compelling reason or arguement for wearing a seat belt is that in a side impact you become a human missile if you are not wearing a seat belt. How would you feel if in such an accident, your passenger(who was smart enough to wear a seat belt)was killed because you were thrown into that person with great force. These type of injuries are actully very common. Why in the world do so many people want to fight this issue. For goodness sakes, just buckle up.

  5. David, as I stated in my post — some jobs require people to jump in and out of a truck repeatedly over short distances, and for them the law doesn’t make sense AT ALL. That’s the only question here, about changing the truck loophole, not seat belts in general.
    To address your point about passengers, if I’m in the car with someone else, whether I’m the passenger or the driver, I wear a belt out of courtesy to them. But I don’t wear it when I’m driving alone in the car, because it HURTS. I can’t begin to explain how much it bothers me after having open-heart surgery, and the likelihood that will ever change is pretty slim.

  6. Belinda says:

    Just so you know, the law does not specify that the shoulder strap must be across your chest. As long as you have your lap belt on, that is sufficient.

  7. Really? That’s good to know, because I can do that.

  8. Don Carmer says:

    what i want to know is. did they repeal the truck exemption or not?
    i haven’t really heard and everyone has there own opinion of whether it did or not.
    do i have to wear my seat belt in my truck or not.
    thank you so much. sure would like to know for sure………don

  9. Dee says:

    The seat belt law is for one reason only, and that is to collect money!!! If they are so concerned with my safety, then they should just educate me and tell me to be careful, but no, they give you a ticket!!! Come on now, is that really needed? I don’t think so. I have a pick-up & don’t have to wear mine unless I chose to. As an adult, I should make the choice to wear or not wear my seatbelt or a helmet if we are talking about motorcycles. Maybe we should make it more difficult for everyone to get a drivers license instead. Accidents usually occur because the individual doesn’t know how to handle their car and the situation. I have been driving for over 21 years with more miles then I can count, and the only major accident I have encountered was when I was 17 & someone ran a red light & hit me. I was taught to be a defensive driver & to always watch what everyone else is doing, but we have become such a self-centered me, me generation, everyone thinks we should look out for them. If we continue to let the govt. make these laws, more & more will be made & it will only get worse.

  10. Keith says:

    I am a retired paramedic and have seen accident where if the person was wearing a seatbelt would have been killed and vice-vera. I think the person who pays good money for their vehicle should be able to make the choice if they want to wear a seatbelt or not. Our vehicles should be like our homes and the government should not tell us what to wear when we drive them. I understand the other laws but just because a Ms. Mandrell had an accident not wearing a belt she took it and got this crazy law passed.

  11. Kirk says:

    The reason the seatbelt law makes no sense is that you are giving police too much power. Yeah, people should wear their seatbelt, and it makes sense to. If you are a mother stopped at a stop sign, and take your seatbelt off for something, and then forget momentarily to put it back on, it is crazy to think a cop is going to pull you over and interrogate you as to why you don’t have it on. When I was fourteen a cop hit my mom and I going seventy miles an hour without any lights on. They gave my mom a ticket for not wearing her seatbelt. There were witnesses that said the cop didn’t have his lights on. They don’t care. They just want something to prosecute.

  12. mark says:

    Just think of how many more lives that could be saved if we also had to wear crash helmets and fire suits…

  13. Bill says:

    Did you know there were 42636 fatalities in the United States in 2006. The estimated 18% of the people that don’t wear seatbelts accounted for 60% of the fatalities. Is this just coincidence? The 2006 safety belt usage rate in Indiana was 91% which is 9% above the national average. However, truck usage rates for the same period is only 54%. It falls 20% below the national average. 69% of the 110 truck fatalities here in Indiana in 2006 were unrestrained. If these 69% were wearing safety belts then 54 more people would potentially be alive. A poll taken by Indianapolis channel six news on March 13, 2007 asked the question “Should Indiana make seatbelt use in pickup trucks mandatory?” The response that was reported on the Five O’clock news indicated that 83% said yes and 17% said no. Most of the taxpayers in Indiana are tired of paying higher taxes and insurance because some of you are paranoid that Big Brother is trying to take over you life by making you buckle up.

  14. Brent says:

    I think that the seatbelt law is absolutely ridiculus for adults. The state wants to mandate these laws for adults, who should make their own decisions. The we get those as stated above that the “taxpayers are tired of paying higher taxes and insurance because of paranoid idea that big brother is in control”. I would have to question the thoughts of someone who really believes that even if their were on deaths in Indiana for years, the insurance companys would not reduce any premiums to anyone. The oil companys are proof of that “fact”. The seat belt law should just be age related for younger adults and children.

  15. John says:

    I think a law forcing us to wear seat belts is not constitutional!!!Last time I checked we are a free country entitled to be free and make our own choices…motorcycle riders don’t have to wear helmets….What I do in my own car is no one’s business and if I want to buckle up that is my choice end of story!

  16. CHRIS NIMON says:

    I BELIEVE ALL KIDS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 SHOULD WEAR A SEATBELT. THAT BEING SAID ANYONE 18 OR OVER SHOULD BE ABLE TO CHOOSE. I HAVE A FEW FRIENDS WHO LIVED THROUGH AN ACCIDENT BECAUSE THEY WERENT WEARING A SEATBELT. MY WIFE WAS ALMOST KILLED BECAUSE SHE WAS WEARING ONE. GOVERNMENT HAS BECOME BIG BUISNESS. THEY DONT REALLY CARE ABOUT OUR SAFETY, THEY CARE ABOUT INCREASING THEIR REVENUE. FIRST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STRONGARMS AND LURES STATE GOVERNMENT BY SAYING HEY, INDIANA, IF YOU MAKE SEATBELTS MANDATORY WELL GIVE YOU 15.7 MILLION DOLLARS TO PUT TOWARDS “PUBLIC SAFETY”. THEN YOU CAN MAKE EVEN MORE MONEY BY TICKETING VIOLATERS. I THOUGHT WE, THE PUBLIC, WERE TO DECIDE THESE ISSUES THROUGH VOTING ON IT. I QUESTION WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT HAS THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO EVEN DO THIS. OF COURSE THEYLL SAY THEY DO. WHILE I AM A PATRIOT WHO LOVES WHAT THIS COUNTRY IS SUPPOSED TO STAND FOR, I THINK ITS DOING THE EXACT OPPOSITE. WE ENCOURAGE OTHER COUNTRYS TO EXTEND THEIR PEOPLES RIGHTS AND LIBERTYS WHILE TAKING AWAY OUR OWN. BY TELLING US ITS FOR OUR OWN SAFETY WERE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE EVERYTHING THE GOVT. TELLS US. THEYVE BEEN DOING THIS KIND OF THING FOR SO LONG NOW THAT MANY PEOPLE EITHER BELIEVE THIS OR THINK THEY CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT IT. LAWS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE MADE AS A RESULT OF THE MAJORITY BELIEF OF THE PEOPLE, WHICH IS WHY THEY REPETIVELY TELL US ITS FOR OUR OWN GOOD. IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF LIFE SEATBELTS ARE A MINOR THING. BUT I HOPE HERE IN INDIANA, DURING OUR NEXT ELECTION, THAT SOMEONE WILL STAND UP FOR US AND THE PEOPLE IN ALL THE STATES AND SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

  17. Michele Moore says:

    Can anyone cite to me the portion of the Indiana law that says wearing a lapbelt is sufficient and shoulder restraint is not necessary. I was just issued a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt because my shoulder harness is broken. I had the lap belt on and previously law enforcement officers have said that is fine. This “officer” from Plainfield was very rude and would not accept the explanation that the lapbelt was on. Of course, he and his department are receiving extra funds for Memorial Day seatbelt enforcement. I am planning to contest the ticket and would like to have the specific information about the lapbelt vs. shoulder harness.

  18. Don S says:

    I agree with with who said that this seat belt law is just a money maker for the police dept. I also think children under a certain age should buckle up. But, If they are so concerned about me being safe in my pickup. Why don’t they put the helmet law back into effect. I don’t see any difference between me not wearing a seat belt in my truck or riding without a helmet. I thank the Governor everytime I buckle up and goto bed at night while it’s still daylight.

  19. Joe says:

    Do limo passengers have to wear seatbelts or, are govenors and other oganized crime members exempt? What is with this helmet thing. Are you saying ” if you are going to take away one of my rights of choice ,seatbelt, you must take away two ,motorcycle helmet”?

  20. Kevin Bell says:

    I despise big governement in personal lives. This is a perfect example. What is next…fines for not wearing a sweater in cold weather?
    Despite what you all may think this is NOT a free country. We are censored and forced into PC bullshit. We rent the land we live on through property tax. The American Dream is just that a dream. We woke up. It is the same bullshit peasants like us have delt with since the beginning of society. Fuck the seatbelt law.

  21. Pat Hoyt says:

    How is it that one individual in a car or truck has to wear a seat belt but we can put 50 kids on a bus without?

  22. Jamie says:

    To answer the question about seatbelts on a school bus. When you have 60+ children on a bus and something happens, you have just a minimal amout of time to get all of those children off of the bus. If something should happen, all of those children will be hyped and in a panic. Buses are designed to with stand a crash. You would lose alot of children trying to get them out. I was a bus driver for six years and I would not want to be responsible for loosing any of them.

  23. matt says:

    Thanks to the seat belt nazis now I am FORCED to wear one. You can say anything you want and I can even make you statistics say what I want (How many people were killed wearing a seatbelt that may not have died if they forgot to buckle up?). The fact about it is NO ONE KNOWS. So now you FORCE me into it. Why can’t people stay OUT of others lives? If they want to wear one, fine. QUIT FORCING ME TO FOLLOW YOUR RULES AND ALLOW ME TO LIVE IN PEACE! All I want is to be left alone, and to have the police work on more important things than worrying about my seat belt.

  24. David says:

    Having been a firefighter for 7 years and a Street EMT for 3 years I can use my personal observations to say that seatbelts are kind of a 50/50 deal. They seem to be a great thing to use in a frontal impact, but everything that happens after that is a gamble. For roll-overs and side impacts I would discourage the use of seatbelts. It is with great sarcasm that I recomend you make your choice based on the type of wreck you plan on having. I try to allways plan my car wrecks carefuly and prepare for the type of impact. Doesn’t everyone plan their wrecks ahead of time? Ok enough sarcasm. There have been times when I have had 2 occupants in a crashed veihicle and sent the belted passenger to the hospital with injuries while the unbelted passenger signed a release form and walked home. This goes both ways which supports my theory of seatbelts being a 50/50 gamble. The fact that they can prevent harm in some cases and cause harm in others does not justify forceing a law upon the citizens to use them. Thats my point of view on the effectivness of seatbelts in a car crash. For my point of view on the law in general I do agree that it serves its pupose well. Never in the history of American government has there been a more clever fund raiser that every liberal out there is willing to buy into. Lets face it- the golden days of freedom will be ended in the name of safety. Every freedom that has dissapeared in my lifetime has been because of safety reasons. Some of the safety laws I agree with, while others I don’t. Remember when drinking and driving was not a crime? I’m glad it is now, but it is still a law passed in the name of keeping people safe. Gun laws, explosives use, pesticides, meth making ingrediants, etc., etc. Remember when you could stock up on psuedophed? If you want to take away a persons freedom all you have to do is convince the majority that it will make the world a safer place. It is perceived as OK to lock up a convicted mass muderer and take away his freedom because it might make us safer. While you and I agree with this thinking why is it that we dissagree when our protection comes down to the level of seatbelts. Why is it that we do not want our own freedom taken away to make us safer. OK I got a little side tracked, but I really do think seatbelt enforcement is a big money maker. I realized this in the ’90’s when every time the state would announce a shortage of revenue there would magicaly be a big campaign by the state police to enforce seatbelts. I began to realize the police exist not to protect and serve, but to collect extra income for general funds. Responsible leaders would spend the money wisely and there would be no need for such laws. I hope to move away soom and am looking for work out of state. While serving in the Army I used to brag about how Hoosiers were too smart to think you could change the movement of the sun just by changing the clock and how Hoosiers were smart enough to know what was best for them and wouldn’t stand for lawmakers pushing us around. Thats how I felt about this great state and its people back then. I STAND CORRECTED. We are just as dumb and screwed as the rest of the country. Its hard to tell the kids its time for bed when its still light outside. The two main reasons I came back to this state are now gone. I’m so ready to move.

  25. Scott says:

    I join the smarter part of the populous that believe that seat belts are a choice. I will not wear one in my truck regardless of what the stupid law is. It is my truck, that I paid for, and that I maintain. If it were someone else’s, then it would be different. People now days lack common sense, why, because the gov’t makes the “hard” decisions for them. I don’t remember being polled on whether or not I wanted the seat belt law changed? Anyone else? When did my representative make the effort to see what I wanted? It’s not like you can vote your representative in anymore, because few of them actually do what they say they will do in the campaign. So you know what state commies, screw your seat belt law, I’ll put historic plates on my 79 and I’ll go on like I have all my life. I’ll be the one responsible for my safety and that of my family. For that matter, population control used to be that the ones who used the brain in their head that God gave them lived, and the ones who didn’t, well you decide. But I forgot, it’s everyone else’s fault what happens to me, I don’t have to be accountable anymore. BS!

  26. Steve says:

    I just recieved my second seat belt ticket in three years. Both incidents provide another reason to eliminate this intrusion into our privates lives. I was alone in the car in both instances. Today, the officer was traveling eastbound looking into my glaring winsheild in the afternoon. He claimed that he could see “without a doubt” that I was not wearing my belt. He is a liar. I drove back to check out the glare and I could not see into a single car with any amount of clarity out of 10 or more on that stretch of road. The other ticket two years ago was written by a State Police Officer who was driving home on my commute path. He lives two neighborhoods from me, and he told me that he pulled me over because was on “seatbelt patrol”. I followed him to his neighborhood to confirm that he was on the way home for the evening. Perhaps he is permanently on seatbelt patrol, but that is nothing more than a cute little lie.
    It is a shame that these officers feel compelled to lie to enforce a bogus law. No doubt there is a quota of some sort considering the amount of publicity this effort is recieving. They potentially put their lives on the line each day they report to work and deserve to pursue bad people, and help those in trouble. Please don’t tell me that I’m breaking the law and therefore am a criminal. I’m not a bad people – period, but I’m made to feel like one when I’m just living my good life and trying to get by.

  27. David says:

    Just a little note about the so called quota thing on ticket writting. Small towns vary in what is required of their officers, but the state police requires a set amount of “contacts” for their road troopers. If a trooper works overtime for something like construction patrol then he must make a certain number of contacts for that shift or else he does not get paid for the shift. Most troopers are not as bad as we might think, but the system makes them that way. They have families to feed just like the rest of us and they work in a corrupted system where they have to bad things in order to make a little extra money. The troopers that I have talked to tell me they too have mixed feelings about the seat belt law, but they write tickets for it because it costs drivers less than speeding tickets. They are doing the population a favor in a sick and twisted way. Remember they have to write tickets for something. Gotta have those “contacts” to bring home the bacon.

  28. Brandi Carraco says:

    My boyfriend works at Anderson Taxi and he also makes deliverys because of the courriour business . He is mostly weared about some one taking the seatbelt and killing him with it or hiting him and he has nowhere to go he is traped . We both thank that childern should but what about his safty ?

  29. Eric says:

    I firmly believe that a driver who is a organ donor should not be ticketed for a seat belt violation. The heroic individuals who chose to make this ultimate sacrifice of becoming a organ donor should recieve some elevated stature in our society. This elevated stature would encourage more people to become organ donors, not to mention it could potentially save lives through donation. Americans should strive for freedome even if that freedome puts and individual (seat belt free driver) at risk. Wearing or not wearing a seat belt is a choice and we all should be free to make that choice and not be finacially punished. I understand the counter argument that law enforcement has a job to do, and that seat belt save lives, but lets face it police officers arent ticketing friends and family are they? Seat belt laws are just a goverment sanctioned discrimination based on nepotism. America needs to stop the seat belt laws and free ourselves from tyranny and government sanctioned highway robbery.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I received my first Indiana seat belt ticket today under their July 4th ticketing push. I had just fueled my wife’s car (both her and the kid’s were strapped in and in proper booster seats. I was strapping it on as I exited the lot. The policeman filling up jumped in his car .. pulled me over .. and issued me a ticket. His statement was “Your belt was not on and your car was in motion .. Yes I saw you were putting it on but that’s too late. Fine $25 .. bullshit. Gonna pay it anyway. It’s amazing though that requiring a motorcycle helmet in Indiana was ruled unconstitutional. President Lincoln said that “You cannot expect to always agree with the laws we make .. but you should expect them to be consistent”.

  31. norman says:

    the indiana state police are ripping truck drivers off have you ever had your seat belt checked at 65 mph on a interstate apparently state police can see through doors and look up 8 ft in the air and determin that your not wearing your seat belt and pull you over almost causing a major accident on the interstate injepordizing my safey and many others most trucks are equiped with a seat belt relax system for over the road drivers have you ever drove 10 hrs with that belt chokeing your neck to make along story short the indiana state police should focas on dui,s speeding,drug dealers bank robbers etc not honest tax payers trying to work to support their familys

  32. Joshua says:

    I hate being forced to wear my seat belt. And I refuse to do so. So many other dangerous things are legal. What a joke. please consider this.
    “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into
    prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying
    to lift himself up by the handle.”

  33. Me says:

    When the government has more power than the people, we have a problem..

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