NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Seat Belt Backlash

March 20, 2003

Efforts to tighten America's seat belt laws are running into resistance as legislators in some states balk at more aggressive enforcement.

At issue is often the question of giving police the right to stop motorists and ticket them for seat belt violations alone -- absent any other violation of the traffic laws.

  • Five states have rejected stricter enforcement measures so far this year.
  • Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have laws which permit police to ticket motorists for seat belt violations alone.
  • Thirty-one states permit police to ticket motorists for seat belt violations only if police spot other violations first.
  • New Hampshire is the only U.S. state having no seat belt requirements.

Seat belt utilization in states with more rigorous enforcement codes averages 80 percent -- compared to 69 percent in states where officers' enforcement duties are more restrained.

Source: Patrick McMahon, "Laws to Buckle Down on Seat Belts Face Resistance," USA Today, March 18, 2003.


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