1.2 Local Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Use Laws and Ordinances
In some States with secondary enforcement belt use laws, individual communities have enacted and enforced community-wide primary laws or ordinances. These laws differ from statewide laws only in that they are enacted, publicized, and enforced locally. Note that this option is not available in all States.
Use: No comprehensive data are available on how many communities have primary laws, but local implementations have occurred in States such as Missouri (Missouri Department of Transportation, 2017).
Effectiveness: St. Louis County, Missouri, implemented a primary seat belt use ordinance in March 2007. Following implementation of this ordinance, the St. Louis County Police Department conducted an intense HVE campaign, accompanied by publicity in the form of variable message boards and permanent road signs, along an 8-mile corridor on State Highway 21. Observational surveys were conducted along the Highway 21 corridor and a control site prior to the start of the enforcement and immediately after its conclusion. The observational surveys measured increases in belt use from 83% to 88% along the Highway 21 corridor and a small, 59% to 57% decrease in belt use along the control corridor (Nichols, Solomon, et al., 2010).
The limited available evidence and extrapolation from the effectiveness of primary seat belt enforcement laws at the State level suggest that this countermeasure should work at the local level (Lucke et al., 2004).
Costs: As with a statewide law, the costs are for publicity and enforcement. Both must be directed to the community itself.
Time to implement: As with a statewide law, a local law can be implemented as soon as it is enacted, however it could include a warning period before enforcement is authorized. The law’s debate and passage likely will generate initial publicity.
Other issues: See the discussion under the Seat Belts and Child Restraints chapter, Section 1.1, Primary Enforcement Belt Use Laws.