In hopes of boosting the state’s 66 percent seat-belt usage rate, the
Kentucky Senate has approved a bill that would permit police to pull over
drivers who are not buckled up.
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, revived the seat-belt
effort to make failure to buckle up a primary offense.
Existing state law prohibits law enforcement officers to stop drivers
solely for not wearing seat belts. To issue seat-belt citations, drivers must
be stopped for another traffic violation, such as speeding.
The seat-belt provision and a requirement that children younger than age
16 wear helmets when riding all-terrain vehicles were added to a House-approved
bill that would increase testing to detect lead poisoning among children.
The multifaceted measure – HB117 – now heads back to the House for
further consideration. If approved, it would head to Gov. Ernie Fletcher for
As approved, the seat-belt provision would prohibit law enforcement
from setting up roadblocks solely to check for seat-belt violations. It also
would prohibit points from being assessed against the driver’s
The stricter seat-belt rule has the backing of Fletcher’s
Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Adams noted that $11.2 million in
federal highway funds are at risk if the state fails to approve a primary
enforcement bill by Dec. 31, 2008.
Congress approved legislation a year ago that gives any state that
adopts tougher seat-belt rules or achieves a two-year belt usage rate of 85
percent by Dec. 31, 2008, one-time federal grant money equal to 500
percent of the state’s annual highway funding.
In addition to securing federal funds, the governor’s office said a
primary law could save 62 lives in the first year. Opponents cited personal
choice and the potential for racial profiling for their displeasure with the