Seat Belt Laws Getting More Strict for Teens

The new law would let police pull over your vehicle and ticket anyone in it who’s under 18 and not wearing a seat belt.

Teens we talked to had mixed feelings about the legislation; 17-year-old Bud Baker doesn’t think it’s fair.

“If a 20-year-old is not wearing a seat belt and he gets in a crash he can be killed, too. It doesn’t matter what age. So I think if they’re going to apply this law, it needs to go to everybody.”

The original plan was for the law to apply to everyone, not just people under 18. But too many lawmakers wouldn’t go along with it.

Senate leaders said the primary enforcement law would be too much government interference in a personal decision. So the bill’s sponsors settled for an under-18 only version.

The law will be named after the house sponsor’s daughter Dori, who died in a horrific crash that killed five teens. None were wearing seat belts.

Senate sponsor Tony Hill says even though the bill is a compromise, it will still save many lives.

“It’s a start. It also sends a message that we care about young people in the state and if you’re going to drive a car, if you’re going to have the authority to drive, you got to have the responsibility to back it up.”

Statistics show teens are among the age group least likely to wear seat belts. Lawmakers now hope the prospect of being pulled over and handed a $75 ticket will make them think twice.

The measure now goes back to the house. The bill also requires all police departments to adopt a policy banning racial profiling. With police required to note the race of the person they pull over, and issue a report due next year.

If the governor signs the bill, it will take effect in July.