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State officials remind motorists, 'Wear seat belts,' after L. Brooks doesn't

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt -- in violation of state law -- when his car was struck by another driver on Friday.

Patterson sustained a broken femur and two broken wrists.

Patterson's driver was also not wearing a seat belt - nor was the driver of the Volkswagon Passat that struck Patterson's car.

Anne Readett is a spokeswoman for the state Office of Highway Safety Planning.

She says there's really no substitute for wearing a seat belt.

"A seat belt is the primary safety device in vehicles, still," says Readett, "despite all the other wonderful enhancements that have come along, including air bags.  In fact it (wearing a seat belt) reduces the risk of serious injury or death by about 45%."

The 73-year old Patterson is recovering from a second surgery after the accident.

Details of the condition of his driver are not being released.

Michigan still has one of the highest rates of seat belt use in the nation - although compliance has slipped a little in recent years.

State law requires anyone under the age of 16 to wear a seat belt, whether in the front or back seat.

People over age 16 are only required to wear belts in the front seats - although Readett says her agency encourages people to wear seat belts in the back seat, too.

For children, Michigan's child passenger safety law requires:

  • Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the rear seat if the vehicle has a rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off.
  • Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.