Drivers caught not wearing their seat belts could be pulled
over under legislation filed in the South Carolina Senate.
The proposal would
permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up. Currently, police
can ticket drivers older than age 17 only after stopping a vehicle for another
violations are a primary offense for anyone 17 and younger who is not belted.
“The system we have
now isn’t working,” State Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, told The State. “This bill will save lives and money.”
Ryberg, the bill’s
lead sponsor and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he
intends to give the measure – S1 – priority status in the session that opens
South Carolina has
one of the nation’s highest rates of traffic death and one of the lowest rates
of seat-belt usage, the newspaper reported. Since last year, the use of seat
belts has dropped in the state, and traffic deaths have risen.
So far this year, 557
people killed in traffic accidents were not wearing seat belts. According to The
State, about half would have survived if they had worn seat belts.
Ryberg said more
Highway Patrol troopers also are needed to cut down on traffic deaths.
Under the proposal,
the fine would be $25 if anyone in the vehicle were unrestrained.
No points would be
assessed against the driver’s license. It also would forbid police from
searching a vehicle or its occupants if a vehicle is pulled over solely for a
If signed into law,
the regulation would mean more money for roads and bridges.
States that don’t
have such a law must use some of their federal highway dollars on safety
issues, such as guardrails and road signs, but they don’t lose any federal
South Carolina is one
of about 30 states without a primary seat-belt law.