A major transportation bill moving through the legislature picks up a provision that could save lives—but kill the bill.
Added to the 200-page bill by Senate Majority Floor Leader Charlie Shields of St. Joseph: primary enforcement of the seat belt law, which would let police ticket motorists who aren’t buckled up. Now officers can only do that if they stop someone for another offense.
Shields acknowledges he once opposed primary enforcement. But he says he’s mellowed, perhaps because he now has a teenaged driver in the family and is tired of reading about teenagers being killed in car wrecks because they don’t have their seat belts on.
But opponents are waiting to see if the House rejects Shield’s proposal, saying they’ll kill the bill if it returns to the Senate with primary enforcement still in it.
Among the opponents: Senate Transportation Committee chairman Bill Stouffer of Napton, who says it’s the motorists’ right to go without a seat belt and get thrown out in a crash.
The Highway Patrol says primary enforcement could save 90 lives a year. Opponents say personal freedom is more important.