For the past three years, special interest groups have been pushing for heftier seat-belt fines in Missouri. Now, the proposal has received a nod from the chairman of the committee.
The current seatbelt fine in Missouri is $10. If bill SB62, written by Sen. Joe Keaveny, passes, the fine will raise to $50.
Missouri has one of the lowest rates of seat-belt compliance in the country. Sen. Keaveny hopes that increased fines will also increase compliance.
“If we could induce them to put their seat belts on, I think we’d save a lot of heartache in this state,” Keaveny, D-St. Louis, told members of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
According to KMBZ, a Springfield, Missouri hospital spends $84 million to treat those weren’t buckled up at the time of an accident, compared to $34 million for those who were buckled up.
Though the bill has failed to reach the Missouri Senate floor in years past, many are hopeful the bill make its way though the Senate this year.
“You’re talking about saving lives — I don’t think you should hold up an initiative that’s possible to do that in committee,” Sen. Mike Kehoe, former member of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, said. “I think you should let the full Senate debate that.”
On Wednesday, Missouri State Medical Association, the Missouri Trucking Association and insurance representatives testified for the legislation.
Under the current seat belt law, officers cannot pull a person over for failure to wear a seat belt. Keaveny’s proposed bill would not change that.