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Mo. Senator Prefiles Bill To Raise Seat Belt Fine

(via Flickr/ Drewwh)

A State Senator from St. Louis is continuing his campaign to increase the fine in Missouri for not wearing seat belts.

This will be the fourth time Democrat Joseph Keaveny has sponsored legislation to raise Missouri’s seat belt fine from $10 to $50.  Opponents have either voted it down in committee or never brought it up for a vote each time.  Keaveny says this time his message will focus more on the lack of seat belt use by teenagers.

“In Missouri we average about 77 percent, (and the) teenage buckle-up rate is about 66 percent," Keaveny said.  "The majority of people aren’t killed as a direct result of the collision, but they’re being ejected from the car.”

Keaveny’s bill would apply to front seat passengers as well as drivers, but it would not upgrade the state’s current seat belt law to primary enforcement.

“In the past three years alone, 354 teenagers have died in Missouri traffic deaths, (and) 75 percent weren’t bucked up," Keaveny said.  "For a teenager, $50 is a lot of money -- if I could get them to comply with the law, hopefully it would bring up the (seat belt usage) rate for the entire state.”

Opponents say seat belt use should be a personal choice, not forced on them by state law.   Missouri's 2013 legislative session begins next month.

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.