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Dozens flood Senate hearing in support of tougher seat belt laws

February 15, 2005
By: Victor Roberto
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 256

Missouri Senator John Dolan made his case to lawmakers for a tougher seat belt law (Tuesday).

Victor Roberto has more from the state Capitol.

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At a hearing, suburban St. Louis Senator Jon Dolan told senators why they should support his bill to change Missouri's seat belt laws. The bill would allow police to ticket anyone not wearing a seat belt. Right now, motorists can only be ticketed after being stopped for another violation.

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Contents: But most importantly, it's the lives. Usership of seatbelt is stuck in this state in the low 70 percentile. It will only raise to the 80s-and maybe even the 90s-with this primary enforcement.

At the hearing, one federal highway official told lawmakers the change would save 90 Missouri lives each year.

From the state Capitol, I'm Victor Roberto.

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Senator Jon Dolan says he has a simple plan to save lives...and earn the state millions. (Tuesday) that plan got a hearing.

Victor Roberto has more from the state Capitol.

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Dolan's bill would let police ticket drivers just for not wearing a seat belt. At a hearing in the Capitol, the Senate Transportation Committee heard dozens of testimonies in favor of the bill. Dr. Jeffrey Runge is the Director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. He says similar laws in other Midwest states have significantly increased selt belt usage.

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Contents: I practiced medecine for 20 years, and I can't tell you the number of times I walked into a family room and heard the words "if he'd only been wearing a safety belt"

Runge says if the bill passes, Missouri would be eligible for 17 million dollars in federal money for highway safety programs...and he estimates 90 fewer Missourians would die on the roads every year.

From the state Capitol, I'm Victor Roberto.

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Dozens of people flooded a Senate Transportation Committee hearing (Tuesday) to support a bill toughening seat belt laws.

Victor Roberto has more from the state Capitol.

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The bill would toughen the law by letting police ticket motorists solely for not wearing their seat belts. But the ten dollar fine would still be one of the lowest in the country. And that bothered St. Louis Senator Joan Bray.

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Contents: This particular bill, to me, seems pretty weak. I mean, we're just talking about slapping someone's hands with a ten dollar fine.

The federal Department of Transportation says in Washington, which has one of the highest seat belt fines in the country, more than 94 percent of motorists wear their seat belts.

From the state Capitol, I'm Victor Roberto.