Model Safety Belt Law
Model Standard Safety Belt Law
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Model Standard Safety Belt Law
The purpose of this
legislation is to reduce injuries and fatalities on the streets, roads
and highways by requiring all drivers and all passengers to wear safety
belts meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards while
riding in motor vehicle and by authorizing standard enforcement.1.2
act may be cited as the [state's] Safety Belt Act.
As used in this act: (a) "Motor vehicle"
means any motor vehicle having a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds
or less that is required to be equipped with safety belts by Federal Motor
Drafters' Note: In the absence of limitations
on enforcement, all laws authorize standard ("primary") enforcement.
Consequently, no special language is needed to authorize primary enforcement
of seat belt laws.
safety belt laws uniquely restrict enforcement by specifying that officers
may not issue a citation solely for a belt infraction, but also must have
another legal reason to stop the vehicle.
model law is a primary law. Nevertheless, the drafters strongly recommend
use of the term "standard safety belt use law" in describing
this or any other safety belt law which does not restrict enforcement
because the absence of a secondary provision limiting enforcement merely
establishes an enforcement standard comparable to othertraffic laws.
This model law is intentionally silent on the admissibility
in civil lawsuits of evidence of noncompliance with safety belt usage
The drafting committee notes that a number of proposals have been made
(and some enacted) which would alter sate tort law as applied to lawsuits
arising from traffic crashes where potential plaintiffs were not wearing
a safety belt. Some of these proposals would required that such noncompliance
always be admissable evidence, while others would stipulate that noncompliance
with a safety belt law could never be admitted into evidence. The drafting
committee believes that no such provision(s) should be included in any
safety belt law, and any such provisions now enacted should be repealed,
in order to allow the application of traditional state tort to determine
civil lawsuit evidentiary questions.
Standard No. 208. Passenger cars are required to have belts if built after
December 31, 1967. Light trucks and multi-purpose vehicle are required
to have safety belts if built after December 31,1971.
(b) "Driver" means a person who drives or is in
actual physical control of a motor vehicle.
(c) "Safety belt" means any strap, webbing, or similar
device designed to secure a person in a motor vehicle including all necessary
buckles and other fasteners, and all hardware designed for installing
such safety belt assembly in a motor vehicle.
Section 3: Application.
This act shall apply to drivers and all occupants of motor vehicles on
the streets, roads, and highways of this state.
Section 4: Operation of motor vehicle with
(a) Each driver of a motor vehicle in this state shall have
a safety belt meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards
property fastened about his or her body at all times when operating a
[(b) Alternate 1 - The driver of a motor vehicle in
this state shall not operate a motor vehicle unless the driver secures
or causes to be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt
or child restraint meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards
all passengers and secures any passenger 12 or younger in the rear seat,
unless all available rear seats are in use by other passengers 12 or younger.
[(b) Alternate 2 - The driver of a motor vehicle in this state shall
not operate a motor vehicle unless every occupant is secured in a properly
adjusted and fastened safety belt or child restraint system meeting applicable
federal motor vehicle safety standards and consistent with the [state's]
child restraint use law.
(c) Every occupant of a motor vehicle in this state shall have a
safety belt meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards
properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle
is in operation.
Drafters' Recommendation: In the event of a
crash, the rear seat is the safer seating position. The drafters
recommend language to provided maximum protection to children 12 and under.
(4b Alternate 1). This issue is particularly important in light of injuries
and fatalities that have occurred when infants and young children have
gotten in the path of an air bag early in its inflation. The risk is greatest
for infants in rear-facing child restraint and unbelted children traveling
in the front seats of vehicles with passengers side air bags.
Section 5: Exemptions
(a) The provisions of section (4) (c) shall not
apply to children covered by [ cite to the state's child restraint use
(b) The provisions of section (4) shall not apply to persons with a physically
disabling condition whose physical disability would prevent appropriate
restraint in safety belts, provided, however, such condition is duly certified
by a physician who shall state the nature of the condition, as well as
the reason such restraint is inappropriate.
(c) The provisions of this law shall not apply to passengers cars built
prior to December 31, 1967 and possessing no safety belts.
(d) The provisions of this law shall not apply to passengers vehicles
which are not required to be equipped with safety belts.
Section 6: Penalties
A person who violates section (4) (a), (b), or (c) of this act shall
be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $50.00,
[and court costs]. 6
4 Taxicab exemptions are common. The following
additional Section 5 (e0 is offered to exempt drivers from responsibility
for adult passengers but not for underage passengers
"(e) The provisions of section (4) (b) shall not
apply to taxicab drivers [with regard to passengers age 18 and older]."
5 Drafters' Recommendation:
License sanctions (e.g., "points") have been shown to be among
the most effective methods of increasing compliance with traffic laws.
Survey research has demonstrated that persistent safety belt law violators
are unwilling to use safety belts even when high fines are imposed. they
report that license sanctions would , however, increase their compliance.
The following is offered for those legislators wishing to consider imposition
of points or other license sanctions for violators of the Safety Belt
For states with point systems:
" Section 6: (b) A person who violates section 4(a) or (b) of this
act shall be assessed  points.
For states that do not have points systems:
" Section 6: (b) Violation of Section 4(a) or (b) shall be considered
a minor moving offense for the purpose of driver license records
6 Drafters' Recommendation:
States may choose to raise the upper limit of the range of fines, but
should not consider reducing the lower of the range.