A bid to permit police to pull over drivers who are not
wearing their seat belts is again under review in the Massachusetts
In two votes in the past four years, House lawmakers have deadlocked
on whether to advance a stricter seat-belt rule.
Currently, police in
the state can issue seat-belt citations to drivers only after stopping a
vehicle for another traffic violation.
The latest effort,
introduced by Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, would create a primary law for
seat-belt enforcement. Violators could be fined $25.
Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security held a hearing on the measure,
but has yet to take a formal vote to advance the bill – S1367.
allowing officers to pull over drivers solely for not buckling up goes too far,
the Berkshire Eagle reported. They contend the state should only educate
drivers and passengers and allow them to make their own choices.
Stacey Ober, a
spokesperson for the Seatbelts Are For Everyone coalition, said state officials
can educate the public all they want, but the majority of Massachusetts’ drivers do not wear their seat belts. She told the newspaper studies have shown
that when states enact primary enforcement laws, use goes up.
In addition, there
could be a financial perk for Massachusetts to strengthen its law.
A proposal before
Congress would give any state that adopts tougher seat-belt rules one-time
grant money equal to 500 percent of the highway funding they received in 2003, The
Associated Press reported.
Massachusetts is one
of 28 states without a primary seat-belt law. Twenty-one states allow
police to pull over drivers solely for not wearing their seat belts. New
Hampshire is the only state without a mandatory seat-belt law.