DEADLY LOOPHOLE: Support grows to make seatbelt bill for minors - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

DEADLY LOOPHOLE: Support grows to make seatbelt bill for minors a primary violation

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

There's a new law being considered in Ohio that would make it a primary offense for a child to ride in a vehicle without a seat belt.

The law is being considered after 21 News reporter Michelle Nicks found a deadly loophole in Ohio law. Her investigation began after a tragic accident in Columbiana County that killed three people, including 11-year-old Addisyn Benzel.

We followed Tim and Theresa Benzel on their journey to Columbus to change state law.

They traveled to the State Capital on Tuesday to offer testimony on Senate Bill 302. A bill authored by Valley Senator Joe Schiavoni, (D-Boardman), that would make it a primary offense for any child 4 to 15 to be caught not wearing a seat belt.

Theresa Benzel is the mother of Addisyn Benzel, "It's just that one step closer to getting this provision of the law done. We're speaking for Addisyn."

The Benzel's daughter, 11-year-old Addisyn Benzel died in January when the overcrowded Chevy Equinox she was riding in with family friends was hit head-on in Columbiana County. Addisyn was killed after being thrown from the rear cargo area where seat belts were not available.

"So the odds that if Addisyn would have been properly restrained in that vehicle, she would probably still be with us here today and that's what gives us the energy to drive down here, to speak our voice, and hope to get some changes made," Theresa Benzel said.

The Benzels are not alone in their support for the legislation. Akron Children's Hospital, the Mahoning County Sheriff, Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs, Canfield Police and Youngstown Police are among the others showing their support for the bill.

Lieutenant William Ross of the Youngstown Police Department, is also the Commander of the Department's Accident Investigation Unit, "Well it will allow the police to take a more preventative approach to this instead of what we currently have to operate off of which is reactive."

More testimony is expected to be heard next Tuesday.

The following Tuesday the bill is up for a vote in the transportation committee. If it passes, then it's on to the full senate for its approval

For Addisyn's family it's a bill in her memory that could ultimately save the lives of others.

"So this is just her way of helping other children and that's what makes it so important for us," Benzel said.


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