State Highway Patrol troopers are gearing up for a crackdown on seat belt use, but they will only be able to ticket someone for not wearing their seat belt if they stop the motorist for another violation. The General Assembly seems in no hurry to make seat belts a primary enforcement issue as was evident during House floor debate this session. Resistance to the idea came through in the objection Representative Brian Yates (R-Lee’s Summit) raised when a primary seat belt law proposal came before the House. Yates then suggested to amendment sponsor Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) that it could be used as an excuse by officers to pull someone over on any suspicion or to harass black motorists. Schaaf responded by noting the death rate is higher among black drivers than white drivers. He suggested a primary seat belt law would save the lives of black drivers. Schaaf denied he would be encouraging police to pull over black drivers. Schaaf couldn’t shake the suggestion that primary seat belt enforcement could not only impinge on personal safety, but could target black drivers. His amendment never got on the transporation bill.
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