Website Provides Seat Belt Exemption

Paul McAleer checks the length of the seat belts in his car Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008 in Oak Park, Ill. A new study found that seat belt use declines as body size increases. But even large drivers who want to use a seat belt may be thwarted because not all car makers offer bigger belts or extenders. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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While the state averages for seat belt usage may be up, there are always people who don't put one on.

There are medical exemptions to the state's seat belt laws, but a website may be generating medical excuses for Texans who might not need them.

The website is www.buckleoff.com.

It was created by a Seattle doctor who says he reviews every medical questionnaire submitted on the site, and then determines if the person is eligible for a medical exemption.

However, the site begs the question, can a doctor who's never met you, properly evaluate you from thousands of miles away?

Lots of BCS residents are wearing their belts these days, but a few need reminders. "After paying $100 you learn and you'll buckle up," said a Texas A&M University student.

Some Texans may be turning to website to get out of seat belt fines.

Dr. Robert Hattner says he can determine if a patient should be medically exempt from wearing a seat belt, just by reviewing how the person answers a questionnaire.

Hattner says on the website that he has over a thousand customers. He says at least a third of those, are from Texas.

Nothing in the Texas Transportation Code says that the doctor who provides a medical exemption must evaluate the patient in person, or be licensed in Texas.

Hattner's website says he is a board certified internist, and licensed in Washington.

From May of this year, to may of last year, 392 drivers were ticketed in Bryan, for not wearing a seat belt. During that time College Station wrote 375 tickets for the same thing.