John Warner, R-VA, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, have introduced measures
to speed adoption by states of "primary" seat-belt requirements.
Seat-belt use requirements
are deemed "primary" if
they allow police to stop and cite a driver based only on failure by a
vehicle's occupants to buckle up. They are termed "secondary" if such
citations can only be made after a traffic stop for another offense. Twenty states,
District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have primary seat-belt use laws.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta urged states to adopt primary
seat-belt laws, offering to travel to states where lawmakers are willing to
introduce such legislation. As many as 1,400 lives a year could be saved by
taking such steps, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety
seat-belt-related bill introduced by Sens. Warner and Clinton, titled the
National Highway Safety Act of 2003 (S. 1993), would give states three years to
enact a primary seat-belt law or reach a rate of usage of at least 90 percent.
Failure to do one or the other would result in a loss of up to 4 percent of
federal highway funds to the state.