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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 11, 2009 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association is urging Ohio lawmakers to enact legislation to improve motorist seat belt use.
A measure to allow police to pull over motorists only for failing to buckle up passed the Ohio House last week. The measure is expected to face opposition in the Senate.
In a letter to Ohio state senators, RMA President and CEO Charles A. Cannon noted the tire and rubber manufacturing industry’s long history in Ohio as well as the industry’s strong commitment to safety.
“Manufacturing the only automotive product that touches the road means safety is the single highest priority for tire makers,” Cannon wrote. “Automotive and tire research and innovation have made vehicles and vehicle components increasingly safe over the last several decades.
“Unfortunately, not even these fundamental technological leaps can always protect vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. While technologically simpler than many of today’s vehicle components, the seatbelt remains our nation’s most formidable weapon against motor vehicle fatalities and injuries.”
Using lap/shoulder belts reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent. States that have enacted primary seat belt enforcement have a 10-15 percent higher use rate compared to states with only secondary enforcement.
Ohio Senate hearings are scheduled today and tomorrow on HB 2, legislation that includes the primary seat belt enforcement provision. A broad coalition including automotive manufacturers, insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, health care organizations, national and local safety organizations, supports the provision.
“The annual loss of 42,000 lives on U.S. highways is a national tragedy,” Cannon said. “Although it is a simple task, too many Americans continue to drive or ride in vehicles at great personal risk by not wearing a seatbelt. Increasing the ability of law enforcement to ticket seat belt avoidance will help improve Ohio’s seat belt compliance. Doing this will prevent the loss of life as well as the accompanying suffering of loved ones who bear the scars of bereavement over the often unnecessary loss of family or friends.”
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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.