MODOT fights for Missouri to pass a seat belt primary enforcement law.
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MODOT fights for Missouri to pass a seat belt primary enforcement law.

Date: November 12, 2008
By: Laura Nichols
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: A Palmyra car accident that resulted in ten deaths has renewed the debate about a law enforcing seat belts.

Laura Nichols has more from Jefferson City.

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MODOT Senior System Management Specialist Vicky Williams said Missouri needs to pass a law allowing police to pull over motorists just for not wearing their seat belt. Missouri's seat belt law says there is only a small fine if caught not wearing your seat belt after being pulled over for another violation. Williams said passing a primary enforcement law would cause 40 more percent of Missourians to wear seat belts. Williams also said adults are flawed in thinking it is only necessary to buckle up their children and not themselves.
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Description: "I would challenge those parents.  Have you thought about who's going to raise your kid if you don't survive? Or have you thought about who's going to take care of your kid if you're in the hospital for a couple of months or something because you put your child in a safety seat but you didn't bother to buckle up."

Williams said now is the time to pass this law because if passed this year Missouri is eligible for a federal grant which could be used to improve roads and infrastructure.

On the other side, some legislators say a seat belt law like this could be dangerous because it gives police the opportunity to abuse their power and pull people over for any reason.

Reporting from the Capitol, I'm Laura Nichols.  


Intro: Ten deaths from a Palmyra car accident spurred debate about the Missouri sat belt law.  

Laura Nichols has more from Jefferson City.

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Among the legislators who oppose changing the law to allow police to pull motorists over just for not wearing a seat belt is Missouri Representative Brian Yates. Yates said passing this law would give police officers the opportunity to stop motorists at any time for any reason. Representative Yates said this is dangerous and difficult to enforce.
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Description: "Giving law enforcement just the wide door open to just pull motorists over for suspicion of not wearing a seatbelt just to me really opens up the box as far as civil liberty issues and abuse."
 
Yates said he supports raising fines and taking a point off someone's license if they are caught not wearing a seat belt when pulled over for a moving traffic violation.
 
MODOT and other legislators support changing the law saying it will save lives and bring in federal grant money.
 
Yates said he disagrees with passing laws to get money.
 
Reporting from the Capitol, I'm Laura Nichols.
 


Intro: A Palmyra car accident resulting in ten deaths caused talk among legislators who continue to support changing the Missouri seat belt law.

Laura Nichols has more from Jefferson City.

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Among legislators who support to change the Missouri seat belt law is the Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt. Pratt said he will do everything he can to make sure people wear their seat belts especially if it means changing the law so police can pull motorists over for just that reason. Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety studies say a driver in Missouri wearing a seat belt has a 1 in 32 chance of being killed in an accident. The chance of being killed decreases dramatically from 1 to 1,294 if the driver is wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Representative Pratt said a seat belt primary law has other benefits besides safety.

 

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Description: "So by simply passing a seat belt bill we can get more federal dollars to keep our roads better. And so I've always been a supporter of that both in terms of safety and in terms of drawing down federal dollars from the government."
 
Representative Pratt said passing this law would make Missouri eligible for a federal grant that could be used to improve roads and highways.
 
Legislators opposed to this say a police could abuse their power and pull people over for any reason at any time. 
 
They also say it violates civil liberties because the government does not have the right to tell people they must wear a seat belt.
 
Reporting from the Capitol, I'm Laura Nichols.