On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Motor Vehicle Accident on Thursday, February 21, 2013
Seat belts offer a great return in investment to drivers and passengers in motor vehicles. Few safety devices are as cost effective as a seat belt, but encouraging drivers to use them is often a problem. Many states have made failure to wear seat belts a primary offense. This means that law enforcement may stop you that offense alone.
In Missouri, failure to wear your seat belts is a secondary offense; an officer cannot stop you for this violation alone. But, if you are speeding or failed to signal a turn, the officer may stop you and cite you for failing to wear your seat belt. The fine is currently $10 and a Missouri lawmaker wants to increase the fine to $50, to encourage more drivers to buckle up and help prevent fatal motor vehicle accidents.
The bill has been introduced three previous times, only to die in committee. There is hope that it will emerge from the committee this year, due to a change in committee leadership, allowing the full Senate to vote on the bill. It would not, however, make seat belts a primary offense.
Seat belts help reduce the severity of car accident injuries. A representative from a hospital testified that traffic accidents involving those who wear seat belts average $33,500 in medical expenses for their injuries, but those not wearing seat belt average $85,000.
Seat belts also reduce the likelihood of ejections, which often happen in rollover accidents. The passenger compartments of modern vehicles have engineered to protect occupants, but that protection is lost if the passenger is thrown from the vehicle.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol noted that two-third of those killed in highway accidents are not wearing seat belts.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Mo. bill to raise seat belt fines gains support,” Associated Press, February 13, 2013