With the rash of auto accidents in the St. Louis metro area, the question of auto safety is one that leaves families and authorities perplexed. Seatbelt use is a long-running issue in Missouri, with the percentage of drivers using them lagging behind the national average. Authorities have preached the warnings about buckling up, and drivers (as well as passengers) can be fined $10 for not wearing them.
Lawmakers have sought to raise Missouri’s fines for not wearing seatbelts, with troubling results. For the last four years, proposals to increase them have failed at the committee level in the Senate. However, it appears that such an initiative will gain full support in the current legislative term.
Senate Bill 62, if passed, will increase the fine for people not wearing seatbelts to $50. Lawmakers believe that a stronger fine will encourage people to buckle up. While it is unclear why the bill is gaining so much support this year, the benefits of seatbelt use are.
Simply put, they save lives.
The Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where the current proposal is being considered, heard testimony from officials from the Missouri State Highway Patrol who indicated that two-thirds of people killed in auto accidents are not wearing seatbelts. Hospital officials also testified, explaining that people not wearing safety belts have double the amount of hospital bills compared to those who wear them.
Representatives from the insurance industry lent their support for the bill. They also expressed how important it would be to save lives.
It remains to be seen whether the bill will pass on a full senate vote, but it appears that it will have wide-spread support.
Source: StlToday.com, Mo. Bill to raise seat belt fines gains support, February 13, 2013