Ask The Mayor: Is It Legal? Wearing Seat Belt Under Arm?

January 18, 2015, 11:49 AM HST · Updated January 25, 12:04 PM
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Click it or Ticket, seat belt enforcement. Maui Now graphic.

Click it or Ticket, seat belt enforcement. Maui Now graphic.

The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.

By Mayor Alan Arakawa

QI recently received a ticket for wearing my seat belt shoulder strap under my armpit. The ticket has no box to check, other than “no seat belt.” Should I have been fined? From what I have read in the rules of the road book, no law is stated. Thank you.

A: According to the interpretation of the law, draping your seat belt over your shoulder does not constitute proper restraint. Hawai‘i Revised Statute §291-11.6 (“Mandatory use of seat belts”) states that the driver and all passengers in an operating motor vehicle must be “restrained by a seat belt assembly” (or by a child safety seat if under 8 years of age), and “restrained” means that the seat belt assembly is “worn as it was designed and intended to be worn.”

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the following information on proper seat belt use: “A shoulder harness is worn across the shoulder and chest with minimal, if any slack. The shoulder harness should NOT be worn under the arm or behind the back.”

In this context, improper use of a seat belt not only violates HRS §291-11.6, but also puts the seat belt wearer at risk for serious internal injuries in the event of a crash.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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