Could stronger seat belt law save lives in Kansas City?

Missouri is not among 32 states with a primary seat belt law but Kansas City should pass one on its own, a police official told the city council public safety committee.

Primary seat belt laws allow police to stop a vehicle and issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, even if that is the only offense.

Secondary seat belt laws like that in Missouri allow a seatbelt ticket only if the officer stops the driver for another violation.

Major James Pruetting said Wednesday that the average seatbelt use is 88 percent in states with primary seat belt laws, compared to 82 percent average for all states.

Buckled seat belts save lives, he said, and average seat belt use in Missouri is only 77 percent and in Kansas City only 70 percent.

Councilman John Sharp said, “Even though Missouri’s rate is pretty sorry, ours is worse.”

Pruetting said some other Missouri cities have passed primary seat belt laws and he recommended that Kansas City do so.

He speculated that the state has not passed a primary seat belt law because rural citizens don’t see it as a priority.

“If you have an area of five farms in a 10-square-mile radius, you’re really not that concerned,” he said.

But studies, including one seven years ago by University of Missouri professor, have linked primary seatbelt laws to more seatbelt use and fewer traffic deaths.

The Missouri study found that ten states and the District of Columbia that upgraded to primary laws saved 3,553 lives between 1993 and 2002.

Comments are closed.