TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Brian P. Stack which would require all automobile passengers to wear a seat belt was approved today by the full Senate by a vote of 27 to 2.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the roughly 25,000 traffic fatalities that occurred in 2008, more than half of those fatalities were unrestrained passengers,” said Senator Stack, D-Union. “We have all heard tragic stories of what happens in car accidents when passengers aren’t wearing seat belts, and this legislation would regulate the segment of the population who still refuses to wear a seat belt, despite the warnings.”
Senator Stack’s measure, S-18, would require all car passengers to wear a seat belt, regardless of age or location in the car. Under current law, all passengers under the age of 18, drivers, and front seat passengers are required to wear a seat belt, but adult passengers in the back seat are not required to wear one.
Under the bill’s provisions, not wearing a seat belt would qualify as a secondary offense, meaning that in order to be stopped a car would have to be violating a primary offense such as speeding. Each unrestrained rear seat passenger would be responsible for any fine imposed for not wearing a seat belt.
“Current law doesn’t require automobile passengers in the back seat to wear a seat belt, but to me, wearing a seat belt anywhere in a car should be common sense,” Senator Stack said.