State proposals call for stricter seat belt laws in Massachusetts

Wearing a safety belt in a car would become a primary law under one bill

Photo Courtesy of MGN Online

BOSTON (WWLP)—Lawmakers are considering making Massachusetts seat belt requirements stricter…a move that those who testified said could help save lives.

Click it or ticket, you may know the phrase. Under state law, you are required to wear a seat belt while driving or riding in a car. But you can’t get pulled over by law enforcement for simply failing to wear a seat belt. It’s a secondary offense in Massachusetts, so you must first be pulled over for another reason to receive a citation.

Some Massachusetts lawmakers and the National Transportation Safety Board are pushing for stricter seat belt laws.

“As we all know, wearing a seat belt is the single best defense against injuries and deaths in a car crash,” said T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board. “We know seat belts are a life saving technology.”

Under one proposal, wearing a safety belt in a car would become a primary law, so you could get pulled over by an officer for failing to wear a seat belt.

Some lawmakers are concerned the proposal could lead to racial profiling.

Although children are required to buckle up in private passenger cars, they aren’t required to wear a seat belt on Massachusetts school buses. One bill would require all Massachusetts school buses to install safety belts for every seat by July 2022. Some lawmakers question why this law hasn’t been passed yet.

“That was my question,” State Rep. Joseph McGonagle, Jr. (D-Everett) said. “Why it hasn’t happened. I don’t know and I look at it as something that as a common sense law just like the seat belt law.”

Under the bill, a city or town can choose to enact a local ordinance or bylaw requiring school buses in the area to have seat belts before 2022.

The Public Safety Committee is currently reviewing public testimony on the bill before making recommendations.