MoDOT chief pushes for tougher seat belt law

Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | 12:02 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — It's failed repeatedly in the past. But Missouri Transportation Director Pete Rahn is optimistic that a bill stepping up Missouri's seat belt enforcement might pass this year.

Rahn said he wants lawmakers to allow police to pull over motorists for not wearing seat belts.

Under current Missouri law, police can issue tickets for seat belt violations only if motorists are first stopped for some other violation.

Rahn said 2,183 people who were not wearing seat belts died in Missouri traffic accidents during the past four years. He estimates a primary seat belt law might have saved 360 of those lives.

Although similar bills have passed the Senate in previous years, they have not cleared the House. Some lawmakers think the bill would be an unnecessary government intrusion on personal freedom.

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