Seat Belt Law Debate
Burris, of Columbia, wants lawmakers to enact a primary seat belt law. A primary seat belt law means police could pull drivers over if they aren't wearing a seat belt.
"We're not just talking about 90 lives, we're talking about people's mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, real family members," he said. "Lives that mean something to somebody, our government, that we voted into office to protect us, needs to step in and protect us from ourselves."
One lawmaker says the state needs to do a better job with current seat belt laws.
"Let's penalize those motorists who are actually violating the law by operating their vehicle dangerously, and not wearing a seat belt," said Rep. Brian Yates of Lee's Summit. "Also, by penalizing them with a more severe fine like other states are doing."
That fine change could take Missouri's current $10 fine to $50. Some say that may change driver habits as quickly as a primary seat belt law. In the five states neighboring Missouri with primary laws, three have higher rates of seat belt use than Missouri. The other two are lower than Missouri.
The house is hearing a primary seat belt bill now and the senate has a similar bill.
According to the national highway traffic safety administration, the primary seat belt law could save Missouri an estimated $231 million in medical costs. Neighboring states have had mixed experiences with tightening their seat belt laws.