BOISE -- Members of law enforcement say summer is the 100 deadliest days for kids and teens on Idaho roadways.
If your teenager is hitting the road, KTVB has a statistic parents should know. In 2011, 77 Idahoans not wearing their seat belts died in auto accidents, and 18 of those deaths were victims under the age of 19.
In early September last year a terrible crash in the Boise foothills on Wildhorse Road ended the life of Bobby Rogers, and it changed the lives of his family members forever. However, it also lit a spark within his parents, a desire for them to help make sure no other teenagers die the way that 16-year-old Bobby did.
The Rogers say it was the best day, and it was the last day.
"I followed him out to the sidewalk, and I just said, 'Bobby I'm just so proud of you. I love you.' And he said, 'I love you too, mom. Thanks for letting me go.'" said Bobby's mom, Sheri Rogers.
Bobby was headed to a friend's house for a sleepover.
"They went to bed with the understanding that their children were safe," said Ada County Sheriff's Detective Philip Stoffle.
The next morning, Stoffle knocked on the Rogers' door.
"I was expecting to hear, 'Bobby's been hurt. We need to go to the hospital,'" said Rogers. "They didn't say that. He said, 'Mrs. Rogers, Bobby's not coming home."
"It was a pretty gruesome crash. The vehicle had left the roadway and hit a boulder, went airborne, and then crashed to the ground," said Stoffle.
Bobby was not wearing his seat belt. He was thrown from the car and died from a head injury.
Bobby's funeral was four days after the crash.
"I think where we really got the feeling that we needed to do something was standing in front of 800 plus kids at Bobby's funeral, and looking out over all these young people and realizing that they probably don't understand how easily this could happen to them," said Rogers.
It has become their mission to raise awareness about seat belt use.
They do that through their non-profit, Buckle Up For Bobby, but the Rogers family have also taken up Idaho's seat belt laws.
In Idaho, not wearing a seat belt is a secondary offense and the ticket is just $10.
"Not having your sticker in the right place on your car, tail lights, head lights, a myriad of things. But, one of the important things, like wearing a seat belt for safety, is a secondary offense, and no we can't pull them over for that," said Ada County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeff Winegar.
Winegar has been in law enforcement for 26 years, about a decade of that on traffic patrol.
Winegar says not wearing a seat belt is the most minor offense for a ticket in Idaho.
KTVB gathered seat belt law data from across the country and found that the only state with less strict laws than Idaho is New Hampshire, which does not a seat belt law.
More than half of the states' seat belt laws are a primary offense, which means you can be pulled over for not wearing one, including Oregon, where a ticket will cost $110, and Washington where a ticket is $124.
"It is a little frustrating that something as simple as making it a primary offense could help save lives," said Winegar.
That's exactly what Rep. Richard Wills from Glenns Ferry tried to do for years, but so far, he has been unsuccessful.
However, in 2003, the state raised the fine for a seat belt ticket from $5 to $10 from legislation proposed by Wills.
For the last several years, Wills has been trying to raise the seat belt fine again.
"I have a strong passion for this. I really want to see us get some teeth into a seat belt law that can be strengthened enough that people will do some mandatory buckling up," said Wills.
Wills was a state trooper for more than 30 years, and he says he's seen his share of crashes where the victims didn't wear a seat belt.
Here is some information from police to compare minor offenses to the current cost of a seat belt ticket:
- Parking in a bike lane is $25 more.
- A broken tail light is $52 more.
- Failing to use your turn signal will cost you $90 more.
- Driving 16 mph over the speed limit is $155 more.
"We had a legislator say at a print hearing that she was afraid that making it a primary law would impose a financial burden on the families of these kids that get seat belt tickets," said Rogers. "The cost of burying a teenager in Idaho is about $15,000."
In Idaho for 2011, the cost of injuries from wrecks where a seat belt was not worn was more than $627 million.
Medical costs paid by state and federal sources were almost $2 million.
Last session, Wills proposed legislation in the transportation committee to raise the seat belt fines.
The committee heard the bill and got the bill printed, but it never got onto the floor.
The committee's chair, Representative Joe Palmer from Meridian, tells KTVB he didn't remember any seat belt legislation being proposed.
However, Rogers remembers speaking about it with Palmer in committee.
"We've been warned by members of the community that to pursue a change in the law is a futile effort, that the law will never change," said Rogers. "In fact there are legislators who have said as long as they're in office, it will never change."
Wills told KTVB some legislators use Idaho's independent spirit as an excuse for voting against stricter seat belt laws.
"It's not about Bobby anymore. It's about the rest of the kids and the community," said Bobby's dad, Duke Rogers.
Both Duke and Sheri Rogers, along with Wills, say they haven't given up on strengthening Idaho's seat belt laws. They all say they're going to be back in the Idaho Legislature trying to get that passed again next session.
Monday kicks off a nation-wide seat belt mobilization that will run until June 2.
The Idaho Transportation Department says all Treasure Valley law enforcement are participating.