Lawmakers looking to make seat belt enforcement a primary offense

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- “Click it or Ticket” is a common phrase, but here in Massachusetts, the phrase can be misleading.

Under state law, police officers can only issue a ticket for a seat belt violation if they pull the driver over for another offense.

Lawmakers have filed legislation that would increase the fines for seat belt violations and would make the violation a primary offense.

Supporters of the primary seat belt enforcement law said it would save about 45 lives a year and save the state more than 500 million dollars in healthcare costs.

According to The National Highway Safety Administration, of the 340 people who died in crashes in 2017, 76% were not wearing their seat belts.

“It’s really not that intrusive to wear a seat belt, given the consequences of not wearing it…when you stop and fly through your windshield,” Agawam resident Bill Whitman said.

Drivers and passengers over the age of 16 would be fined $50 for not wearing seat belts.

The driver would be charged an additional $50 for each passenger between the ages of 12 and 16 who were not wearing belts. A rule that one Springfield parent already enforces.

“I have a 14-year-old and she’s tall enough to sit in the front and I always make sure she always has a seat belt. Not just for me driving because I feel like I am a safe driver but there are other people that are reckless,” Springfield resident Johanna Acevedo said. But, there are some that oppose the bill.

The ACLU of Massachusetts argued that such a policy could be selectively enforced and lead to racial profiling.

Massachusetts currently ranks 46th-in-the-nation for seat belt usage.

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