58 Missouri cities and counties have now adopted primary seat belt ordinances.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure (right) and other mayors speak to the Capitol Press Corps in Jefferson City on February 14, 2018 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

The Springfield City Council approved a primary seat belt ordinance in late January, by a vote of 8-1.

Mayor Ken McClure says Springfield’s police chief and first responders pushed it, adding it was an easy decision.

“Every one of the eight (city council) votes in favor of that believe that ultimately that was a state decision,” McClure says. “We should have had this passed several years ago to be applicable statewide.”

McClure is calling on Missouri lawmakers to pass a primary seat belt law, which would allow police officers to enforce the law as a stand-alone offense.

“Our Springfield ordinance will apply in Springfield, but it will not apply outside our city,” says McClure. “So we want to do that as a city doing what we can, but we strongly urge our Legislature to take that action.”

Springfield’s website notes the city’s population is about 159,000. Springfield has 80 square miles.

McClure is part of a bipartisan group known as “Missouri Mayors United for Progress“, which has endorsed a primary seat belt law.

The group elected Kansas City Mayor Sly James (D) as president of the organization on Wednesday, and also briefed the Capitol Press Corps during a news conference.

Meantime, Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, indicates we’ll see movement soon on primary seat belt legislation.

During his Thursday afternoon briefing with the Capitol Press Corps, Missourinet asked Speaker Richardson when State Rep. Bill Reiboldt’s, R-Neosho, primary seat belt bill will be referred to committee, and if he had a sense of how his 115-member caucus feels about it.

“The chairman of the House Transportation Committee (Bill Reiboldt) and I visited on a whole range of proposals, that (primary seat belt bill) being one of them. But we intend to get some of that legislation moving through the process very soon,” Speaker Richardson says.

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson in a House committee hearing on February 13, 2018 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says 56 Missouri cities and two counties (St. Louis County and northwest Missouri’s Buchanan County) have approved primary seat belt ordinances, covering about 26 percent of the state’s population.

Springfield and another southwest Missouri city, Rogersville, approved their ordinances in January.

MoDOT says passing a primary seat belt law would save 43 lives and would prevent about 530 serious injuries annually.

The agency also says you are 23 times more likely to be in a crash when a driver texts and drives.