South Carolina rejects primary seat-belt proposal

| 7/25/2003

A proposal in the South Carolina Legislature to permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up is dead for the year.

H3128, which passed the House this spring, was never taken up by the full Senate before lawmakers adjourned in June.

The bill would have created a primary law for seat-belt enforcement. Under current law, police cannot ticket drivers for seat-belt violations unless the driver is pulled over for another traffic violation.

It forbade police to search vehicle occupants solely for a seat-belt infraction.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, sought passage of the bill to put South Carolina in line for additional federal money.

The Bush administration recently proposed an incentive program to encourage states to increase seat-belt enforcement. The program would provide grants worth $100 million a year for highway safety or construction programs to states that pass a primary seat-belt law or show a seat-belt-usage rate of at least 90 percent.

South Carolina is one of about 30 states without a primary seat-belt law. The state^s usage rate is 73 percent, The State newspaper reported recently.