By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
JEFFERSON CITY – A proposed bill would quintuple the fine for not wearing a seat belt, a measure that proponents argue would reduce traffic fatalities.
Senate Bill 62, introduced by state Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, would increase the fine for the violation from $10 to $50. Getting caught without a seat belt would continue to be a secondary violation, meaning that officers cannot pull over drivers for that reason.
The Missouri Senate’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on the issue in the Capitol on Thursday. Similar legislation was tried each of the last three years, but didn’t make it through the legislature.
Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said 63 percent of the total fatalities in 2011 were unbuckled drivers.
Fatalities increased last year, from 786 in Missouri in 2011 to 829 in 2012.
He said the state averages 75 percent usage, compared to an average of 83 percent nationally. Proponents believe increasing the seat belt fine will boost the Show Me State’s numbers closer to the national average.
“We think if we get it up there it could drop fatalities 100 a year,” Replogle told Missouri Watchdog.