Missouri’s transportation task force will recommend stronger seat belt legislation.

The National Safety Council (NSC) ranks Missouri 50th in the nation in preventable accidents.

The 21st century Missouri transportation system task force is recommending a primary seat belt law.

State Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho) speaks on the Missouri House floor in 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications}

House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, who serves on the task force, tells Missourinet he’s receiving good feedback on his primary seat belt bill.

“Well I’m hearing more positive than negative and you know, I just don’t tie it into an issue of liberty,” Reiboldt says.

A primary seat belt law would allow law enforcement officers to enforce the seat belt law as a stand-alone offense.

There have been about 850 fatalities on Missouri roadways so far in 2017. Reiboldt says 64 percent of victims were not wearing seatbelts.

Reiboldt addressed the seat belt issue with the Capitol Press Corps, after Tuesday’s task force work session in Jefferson City.

The Neosho Republican says his primary seat belt legislation is aimed at saving lives. He describes one incident where a man was ejected from a vehicle and killed.

“And the (Missouri) Highway patrolman had to go home that night and tell his (the driver’s) wife and three children that daddy wasn’t coming home,” says Reiboldt. “When all it would have taken to save that gentleman’s life was to snap that seat belt up.”

The Missouri Highway Patrol testified last week in Columbia that state troopers have written 62,000 citations for seat belt violations in 2017.

During Tuesday’s task force work session, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) director Patrick McKenna predicted a primary seat belt law would save at least 60 lives a year in Missouri.

Transportation task force chairman State Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, confirms the task force is recommending a primary seat belt law.

“So we’re really making sure that Missouri citizens are buckling up and we feel like we could reduce the fatalities in this state, from the primary seat belt alone, seven to ten percent,” Corlew says.

State Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, tweeted at Missourinet during the task force meeting. Her tweet read: “We already have a seat belt law and they (drivers) still didn’t comply. Making it primary is unlikely to change that.”

The transportation task force has prepared a draft 60-page report. They’ll submit their final recommendations to the full Legislature by January 1.