The question we pose to our blog readers this week is this: are police officers exempt from wearing their seat belts? For a majority of the people in Wisconsin, the answer to this question is unequivocally no. Everyone is required to wear a seat belt while operating a motor vehicle and police should be no exception to this rule. After all, aren’t they supposed to be the role models of good behavior that we are supposed to emulate?

But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, data collected over the past few decades revealed that a large number of fatal accidents involving police officers were the result of officers not wearing their seat belts. In fact, the largest number of deaths occurred between May and October across the entire country, many of them because officers chose not to use their seatbelts.

Many officers chose not to wear seatbelts because it gets in the way of their guns and can make things difficult when trying to get out of their vehicles quickly. But some people in the community point out that this is a small price to pay when you consider the number of chilling stories in the world that remind us just how important wearing your seat belt can be.

For one Maryland police officer, by the time his cruiser had tumbled to a halt this month, he had been ejected from the vehicle while his partner, who had been wearing his seat belt, was pulled to safety only suffering moderate injuries. He was killed on impact. “Thank God [his partner] had his seat belt on,” said the officer’s captain about the survivor.

Stories like this are a grim reminder that motor vehicle fatalities are not limited to everyday civilians. They are an ever haunting reminder that everyone should be held to the same standards; everyone should wear their seat belt when driving.

Source: Suwannee Democrat, “For police, not wearing seat belts can be fatal mistake,” Ashley Halsey III, Oct. 16, 2012