Two Nebraska lawmakers are offering bills to make not wearing a seatbelt in a motor vehicle, a primary offense.
Measures from Senators Bob Krist of Omaha and John Harms from Scottsbluff would mean motorists could be stopped by law officers without having to first be pulled over for some other violation.
Krist says his bill would also cover rear-seat passengers.
“There are airbags in our cars and if you are not properly positioned and secured in the vehicle, an airbag will do more damage to you than the accident, potentially,” Krist says. He says the state’s current belt law does little for back seat passengers.
“In our present law in Nebraska, if you’re not wearing a seat belt in the back seat and you’re 19 years old, you are going to enter the front seat in an accident,” he says.
Senator Harms’ bill differs from the measure introduced by Krist in one respect, it carries a fine of $100 for a violation, rather than $25 included in the Krist measure.
“We frequently hear arguments that pertain to the freedom of choice,” Harms says. “Some individuals would prefer to reserve the right to either wear or not wear the seat belt while operating a motor vehicle in the state of Nebraska. My contention is this, it’s already against the law. It’s really not a choice.”
Iowa has a primary offense seatbelt law. Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri and Wyoming are among those with secondary-offense laws, similar to Nebraska’s current statute.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice