Missouri Senate bills aim to change driving requirements in Missouri

2 years 9 months 1 week ago Saturday, February 06 2016 Feb 6, 2016 Saturday, February 06, 2016 4:55:00 PM CST February 06, 2016 in News
By: Rose Schmidt, KOMU 8 Reporter

JEFFERSON CITY - A hearing is scheduled in the Missouri Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee for four bills related to driving in Missouri.

The transportation hearing is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. on Feb. 10. The committee is scheduled to hear Senate bills 569, 694, 820 and 821.

If enacted, SB 820 would require all people riding in a car or truck to wear seat belts with few exceptions.

"We know that seat belts save lives. When everyone is buckled up, even serious accidents can result in less dire outcomes," Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur), the bill's sponsor, said.

Current Missouri law requires drivers, front seat passengers and passengers who are under 18 to wear seat belts if they're riding in passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles are cars and trucks (weighing less than 12,000 lbs) that were designed to carry less than 11 people and were manufactured after Jan. 1, 1968.

The Senate bill would require every person riding in passenger vehicles to wear seat belts while driving on Missouri streets and highways unless the person has a medical reason for not wearing a seat belt that has been documented by a doctor. The bill would also change the term "passenger vehicles" to include all trucks regardless of weight.

SB 820 would also outlaw the provision saying people can't be stopped by police solely for not wearing their seat belts.

"By knowing you can receive a traffic violation for not buckling your seat belt, more people will wear them," Schupp said.

Schupp also sponsors another transportation bill, SB 821, which would ban texting while driving for all people in the state, unless the cell phones are used in a hands-free voice activated mode.

Current Missouri law says people 21 and under cannot text and drive.

"Distracted driving by people of all ages is dangerous and can have disastrous consequences. The law will promote public safety," Schupp said.

SB 569 is the same as SB 820, except that it does not include the hands-free voice activated provision.

Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) sponsored SB 569.

The final bill the transportation committee is scheduled to hear is SB 694, which Sen. Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) sponsored.

If enacted, SB 694 would change helmet requirements for motorcyclists. Current Missouri law requires all people riding on motorcycles or motortricycles to wear protective headgear while the vehicles are moving.

The Senate bill would allow motorcycle operators to drive without helmets if the drivers have first-party insurance coverage and license plates stating they don't need to wear helmets.

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