JEFFERSON CITY - State Rep. Bill Deeken, R-Jefferson City, has filed legislation to change the state's seat belt law to allow primary enforcement. Sixty legislators have added their support for this life-saving legislation.
"There are more co-sponsors and supporters for this law than ever before. Together we can save 90 lives each year and prevent 1,000 injuries at no cost to taxpayers," said Deeken.
More than 230 organizations and 1,600 individuals throughout the state have signed on as Primary Safety Belt Partners. Supporters of this initiative include insurance agencies, hospitals, ambulance associations, medical associations and law enforcement including the Missouri Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Associations.
The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety considers passage of this law to be the single most effective way to reduce deaths and disabling injuries on Missouri roads. Research shows that passing a primary safety belt law will increase seat belt usage in Missouri by 11 percent, saving many lives and reducing injuries on our roads.
"We're thrilled to know the bill is filed and see so many legislators demonstrating their concern for Missouri lives by co-sponsoring. It's time to stop the senseless death on Missouri roads, and I applaud these lawmakers for doing the right thing," said Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn.
Of more than 500 Missouri traffic laws, the current safety belt law is the only one that has a secondary enforcement provision - a driver must be stopped for another reason before they can be cited for a safety belt violation. The state also could gain at least $16 million in a one-time federal incentive grant to use for safety enforcement, education and engineering. This is the last year the grant is available.
Missouri's current seat belt usage rate is 76 percent, well below the national average of 83 percent. Missouri teens are even less likely to buckle up - only 62 percent. Between 2005-2007, 80 percent of teens that died in Missouri traffic crashes were not wearing a seat belt.
For more information on a primary safety belt law or to sign up as a partner, visit www.saveMOlives.com.