Bill proposes�to withhold some�federal funding in states without 'primary' seat-belt laws

| 12/16/2003

Sens. 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, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have primary seat-belt use laws.

Meanwhile, 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 Administration.

The 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.