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SAT-014: Seat Belts

Seat Belts: The Wisconsin Medical Society (Society) supports legislation to implement primary enforcement of the safety belt law and the mandatory use of age-appropriate restraint devices in all seating positions in all motor vehicles in Wisconsin with allowances for medical exemptions.

The Society believes that there are no generally recognized categories of medical conditions that would warrant exemption from the requirement to use child or adult occupant safety restraints.

The Society cautions that a physician who states that a person is unable to wear a safety belt for medical or physical reasons might be held liable for injuries to that person that result from not wearing a safety belt. If a medical exemption is to be made, the Society recommends the following guidelines:

  • A medical exemption should only be granted for a sound medical reason and never routinely.
  • A request for medical exemption must be carefully reviewed and all possible encouragement given to the patient to adapt the restraint system to the patient’s condition (i.e., adjusting the position and height of the car seat, and adjusting and positioning the safety belt) before making a decision.
  • If a medical exemption is granted, a record should be kept by the physician of the medical reason given by the patient for the exemption, the documentation of the basis for which the medical exemption was granted, the date it was granted and the expiration date, if any.
  • For temporary conditions, a medical exemption should be granted for periods of no more than six months, and renewed as necessary. For permanent conditions, a medical exemption should be granted for no more than four years and renewed as necessary. The Society also encourages the Office of Highway Traffic Safety to develop a public information program in the use of restraints. (HOD, 0410)*

*Currently under five-year policy review.