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House votes to repeal primary seat-belt law

The Minnesota House has adopted an amendment to the Judiciary bill that would repeal the primary seat-belt law in Minnesota.

Public safety officials are appalled, and the Senate has made no move yet to follow suit.

The law, passed in 2009, allows police to ticket drivers not wearing seat belts even if they haven't violated other laws. Before that, seat-belt violaters weren't tagged unless they'd been stopped for some other violation.

But during discussions late Monday night, the Pioneer Press says, Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, suggested a return to the secondary seat-belt law approach, noting police were making stops to increase compliance.

"I think it's totally unnecessary and is more of a revenue raiser than a safety issue,'' Rukavina said.

The amendment passed 75-55.

Yesterday, public safety officials spoke at the Capitol against the proposed change.

Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman said: "The best tool that we have to improve public safety in Minnesota is in jeopardy as a result of a bill that passed in the House last night repealing the primary seat-belt law."

Statistics cited by Cheri Marti, head of the Public Safety Department's Office of Traffic Safety show since the law's passage:

  • There have been 179 fewer serious injuries and 69 fewer fatalities involving unbelted motorists.
  • Seat-belt compliance has increased from 87 percent to 92 percent.

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Comments (3)

When this primary seat belt law was being pushed, proponents said this would save the 40some people that die each year from not wearing their belts. I fully expected proponents to lie upwards, but now Mrs. Marti is saying it's saved more lives than had been lost previously?

This seatbelt issue is BS. A primary seat belt law isn't going to have enough of an effect on people as they think. People already knew we had a seatbelt law. The general public had no idea you couldn't get pulled over for not wearing your seat belt under the old law. The only thing that may have helped is talking about it. When it's on the news, it's on people's minds.

The cops get to use a minor infraction to catch more people... and what do they do when they catch more people? Write tickets. Tickets only serve safety purposes one person at a time. You can not create a safer driving experience one person at a time. Because that one person gets complacent again within a week or two.

This legislature is second only to Arizona in idiocy!

I think seat belts should be worn, but we had the law correct when they couldn't stop you and ticket you only for that reason.

I believe in the golden rule, do onto others as you would do onto yourself. Before you answer me, please do this, when you are driving around pretend you are a cop and look for people not wearing seat belts, not just the driver, passengers also. Notice that it is not always so easy to tell with some vehicles. Should you pull them over on suspicion? Look!, next to you there is a gorgeous looking lady, obviously nothing strapped across her chest. Maybe you would like to meet her. She notices you staring at her and is now disconcerted, she was waiting for the light but now turns right, to get away from you. Maybe you see a sporty two door up ahead, same kind of car that the jerk that lives down the street from you drives. Maybe it is him. Accelerate (if you can legally) to catch up, follow it close enough until you are sure the occupants are properly belted, and while you are at it, check to make sure the tabs are current, simulate running the license plate through the law enforcement computer by writing it down. While you follow, note if the driver in the coupe makes any driving offenses, like speeding, failing to signal or stop completely at stop sign.

Maybe the Minnesota Safety Council will advocate in the future that police should peer into your windows (but only if you invite them by having your shades open) in case you are doing something unsafe or unhealthy in your home. Do you think that never could happen? My wife and her mother were born in a nation that routinely spied on and monitored it's subjects. Even now they sometimes feel that people might be watching. But the safety-at-any-cost people say that it saves lives. Really? there was a huge trend for fewer deaths on the roads anyway because of safer cars, roads and other factors. You can't prove it is from this law. However we can prove increased revenues taken from people's pockets at a time they are cash strapped already. $105 might not be much money to you but somebody might not be able to replace badly worn tires on their 15 year old car because of the fine and end up dead or injured because of it.