EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSREVISING SEAT BELT LAW
from Eyewitness News Online
Key Committee Approves Seat Belt Revision
Reported by: Katy Brown
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Katy Brown
Reported: Feb. 21, 2013 12:06 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 9:21 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
It may have taken five years, but the Roads and Transportation Committee finally approved to revise the state’s seat belt safety law on Wednesday.
They hope to make West Virginia’s road and drivers safer.
“I think we’re putting safety first,” said Delegate Doug Skaff of the 35th District, “whether we save one life or 14 lives a year.”
Director of Highway Safety, Bob Tipton, agrees.
“[The goal is] most definitely to save lives and reduce the number of people injured on the highways.”
Under the current law, police can only pull you over for another driving violation first, then give you a ticket if you are not wearing your seat belt.
The hope is that this revision will not only keep drivers safe, but bring in some revenue too.
But not all House members were in favor.
“I’m not inclined my freedom for what somebody might perceive as being safety or for money,” said Delegate Jim Butler of the 14th District.
But there is a group whose “freedoms” are protected.
Anyone with a documented medical condition is exempt. But for Cynthia Wheeler of Charleston, who is in a wheelchair, she still sees the importance in seat belts.
“I don’t like the belt going around,” said Wheeler, “But I think it’s be a whole lot safer if you really put it on.”
And now Skaff says whether you like it or not, it’s time to buckle up.
"Wear your seat belt, it's not a choice anymore. We want you to save lives and most importantly, save your own."
The bill has to go through judiciary, the senate, and the House before it becomes law.
And if it goes from a secondary offense to a primary, that will be effective starting Sept. 1, 2013.
The discussion of making not wearing a seat belt a primary offense is back on the table in the West Virginia Legislature.
A bill which would make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense has had no trouble getting out of the senate, but has always hit a road block in the House. Wednesday, however, it made it out of a key committee.
The Roads and Transportation Committee approved a revision of the law. If the bill makes it through the Judiciary Committee and the Senate, not wearing a seat belt will be a primary offense.
Under current law, police can only pull you over for another violation first before giving you a ticket for not wearing your seat belt.
"We passed the bill to make seat belt safety a priority, moving it to a primary offense,” said Del. Doug Skaff. “And I think we're putting safety first, whether we save one life or fourteen lives a year."
The bill has exceptions for those who have documented medical conditions.
The state Legislature will take up the seat belt bill for the fifth year in a row.
The law already states that adults in the front seat and anyone under the age of 18 in the car has to wear their seat belts. It's not a primary offense, however.
That means police have to pull you over for something else before they can give you a ticket. State Sen. Corey Palumbo's bill would make it a primary offense. The bill is on Wednesday's agenda.
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